Skip to main content

Full text of "A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace"

See other formats

Rav Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook 

Edited by Rabbi David Cohen 

Translated, with additional notes, by Jonathan Rubenstein 
... (from his unpublished rabbinic thesis) 

List of Chapter Headings in Hazon Hatzimhonut Vehashalom 

1 . Justice regarding animals 

2. Meat was not permitted to the first human being 

3. "The prompting of the Torah" and "the prompting of the intellect." 1 

4. Meat of desire [to satisfy the appetite] 

5. An am ha'aretz [ignorant or uncultured person] is prohibited from eating meat 

6. The permission [to eat meat] at the time of moral downfall 

7. A concession on the part of divine reasoning 

8. Our estrangement from animal society 

9. Preventing the debasement of the masses 

1 0. The triumph of moral truth 

1 1 . The Torah speaks with respect to the evil inclination 

12. The age of pure morality and peace 

13. The mitzvot as windows to the light 

14. The mitzvot of covering the blood and shehita [ritual slaughter]. 

15. The limits of [spiritual] ascent 

16. Changes in our relations with wild animals, fowl, and domesticated animals 

17. The prohibition of fat. 2 

18. The preparation for the covering [of the blood] 

19. The law of the use of milk and wool. 

20. The milk exists for the kid. 

21. The prohibition of meat [cooked in] milk during the transitional period. 

22. The reason for the prohibition of shatnez 3 

23. The permission of shatnez 4 in tzitzit 5 and in priestly garments. 

24. The body of laws faces the future 

25. "The words of the scribes are pleasing" 

26. The compassion reflected in the prohibition of nevejah (carcasses) and terefah (flesh 
from injured or torn animals). 

27. Towards the improvement of the animals' lot 

28. Just laws for the future to come. 

29. The peak of perfection for humanity 

30. Universal peace 

3 1 . A new world 

32. The elevation of animal life in the future 

1 From Bahya Ibn Pakuda's Duties of the Heart. See "Preface to the Translation," pp. 45-^9. 

2 Leviticus 3:17: "It is a law for all time throughout the ages, in all your settlements: you must not eat any fat or 
any blood." 

3 The mingling of wool and linen. See Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22: 1 1 . 

4 See Section 22. 

5 Fringes of the prayer shawl worn in morning worship and of the four-cornered inner garment worn by 
Orthodox Jewish men. 

Preface to the Translation 

" Hazon Hatzimhonut veHashalom " ("A Vision [lit. "The Vision..."] of Vegetarianism and 
Peace") is a compilation of excerpts from two of Rav Kook's early essays, " Afikim Banegev " 
("Streams in the Desert") and " Talele Orot " ("Dewdrops of Light" or "Fragments of Light"). " Afikim 
Banegev " was first published, in serialized form, in a Berlin Hebrew monthly, HaPeles ("The 
Balance") in 1903 and 1904; " Talele Orot " originally appeared in 1910 in Takhkemoni ("Wise 
Counsel"), a student Hebrew periodical at the University of Berne, Switzerland. The complete essays 
appear in various later editions of Rav Kook's writings which are listed in the bibliography, along with 
the original publications. 

Both of these essays include sections which deal with animals and the interpretation of mitzvot 
and other practices which concern animals; they are not, however, as one author states, "Kook's 
essays on vegetarianism and man's duties to the animal...," 1 for they deal in the main with broader 
concerns of which "vegetarianism" is but one aspect. Rav Kook's disciple, Rabbi David Gohen, 
collected this material and gave it the title, "A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace." It was originally 
presented at a conference of religious vegetarians and was published in 1961 in a volume of essays 
in memory of Rav Kook's grandson, who drowned in 1959 at the age of twenty. 2 It appeared as a 
separate pamphlet in 1983. 3 

The editor divided the work into thirty-nine sections, of which the first thirty-two are 
excerpted from " Afikim Banegev " and the final seven from " Talele Orot . " He also gives titles to each 
section which pertain to its particular content. It should be made clear that neither the divisions, nor 
the titles of each section, nor, for that matter, the title of the work as a whole, appear in the original 
essays. Therefore, while the sections do represent a structuring of the work according to its content, 
the beginning of any given section may logically or stylistically follow closely the ending of the 
previous section. The division of the text and the titles serve a useful purpose, but the reader should 
keep in mind that the work was written in a continuous form. In some instances, the editor skipped 
sections of the original essay, or the text departs from the original in some way; these instances have 
been indicated in footnotes. 

The essay " Talele Orot " appears in English, in full, under the name "Fragments of Light: A 

View as to the Reasons for the Commandments," in Ben Zion Bokser's fine collection and translation 

of Rav Kook's writings. 4 Since the material which comprises the last seven sections of "A Vision of 

Vegetarianism and Peace" is included there 5 , the first thirty-two sections, which are taken from 

"A fikimBanegev ," are presented here. (In general, the material from " Talele Orot " recapitulates in 

a briefer form themes which are developed more fully in the excerpts from " AfikimBanegev .") The 

first section of the work is found in English translation in Tree of Life , edited by Philip L. Pick, and 

brief excerpts are translated in Joe Green's "Chalutzim of the Messiah" (see bibliography). 

Rav Kook's "inclusion of animals in the fullest unfolding of morality" 6 can be attributed to 

various aspects of his personality and his thought. Certainly his self-described love for all existence, 

and his evident compassion for all of God's creatures, explain his concern for the conditions of 

animals and for the attitude of human beings toward them; but this is only a partial explanation. One 

commentator on Rav Kook's outlook and motivation puts it this way: 

The excessive stress laid on Kook's emotional richness, his profound kindness and all- 
embracing love - true as it is - tends to obscure the fact that it was a strictly rational Halakhah 
that dictated his approach to the national renaissance and to his demand of unity among all 
forces in Judaism. 7 

This applies as well to his concern for the just treatment of animals. The fulfillment of what he sees 
as the ideal relationship between human beings and animals, when the craving for meat is diminished 
and no longer demands the slaughter of animals for food, and when all exploitation of animals and 
their natural possessions will cease, is the outcome of adherence to mitzvot and the recognition of 
the motivations and intentions of those mitzvot . This fulfillment, furthermore, is but one element of 
the larger realization of the Jewish role in history; this ideal relationship is a characteristic of the 
Messianic Age and, in Rav Kook's system, the recognition of and striving for this relationship is a 
means of bringing about that era of harmony and peace. 

This interpretation of vegetarianism as an ideal is a well-established view in Jewish tradition. 
The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 59b) as well as many commentators, including Rashi, Ibn Ezra, 
Nachmanides, and Cassuto, make note of the fact that the permission to eat meat after the flood 
(Genesis 9:3) is a distinct departure from the original vegetarian diet which was intended for ail 
creatures, including man and woman (Genesis 1 : 29-3 0). 8 Nachmanides, Cassuto, and others share the 
view, which is elaborated upon by Rav Kook, that the permission to eat meat was granted as a 

concession to human weakness and imperfection. And interpreters of Jewish practice from 

Maimonides, in the Guide of the Perplexed, 9 to Dresner (The Jewish Dietary Laws 10 ) recognize that 

shehitah (ritual slaughter) and kashrut (the dietary laws) represent the fundamental principle that 

while the eating of meat is permitted, "...we must learn," in Dresner's words, "to have reverence for 

the life we take." 11 

Pinchas Peli puts it this way: 

Accordingly, the laws of kashrut come to teach us that a Jew should prefer a 
vegetarian meal. If however one cannot control a craving for meat, it should be kosher meat, 
which would serve as a reminder that the animal being eaten is a creature of God, that the 
death of such a creature cannot be taken lightly, that hunting for sport is forbidden, that we 
cannot treat any living thing callously, and that we are responsible for what happens to other 
beings (human or animal) even if we did not personally come into contact with them. 12 

The ritualized and restricted practice of eating meat is seen as the "next best" alternative to vege- 

The modern concept of ethical vegetarianism is echoed in the concept of tza'ar ba'ale hayyim - 
the avoidance or prevention of cruelty to animals. This is an established and essential principle for the 
Rabbis of the Talmud, who deem it to be a biblical ordinance even though it is not explicitly stated 
in the Bible. 13 Adherence to this principle continues in medieval Jewish philosophy; it is found in the 
writings of Maimonides 14 and, later, of Joseph Albo 15 , among others. The kabbalistic version of this 
doctrine often includes, along with the admonition against causing suffering, the belief that the animal 
soul is worthy of ascending to a higher level, and that in eating animal flesh a person does the animal 
a great service in elevating its soul. 16 

These foundations of the Jewish view towards animals - the humane basis of kashrut and 
shehita , the principle of tza'ar ba'ale hayy im, and other aspects of the relationship between human 
beings and animals - are well documented in Jewish sources, and many works which treat these 
subjects are listed in the bibliography. In "A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace" Rav Kook 
incorporates all cf these traditional views, synthesizes them, and goes beyond them. 

For the most part, this work takes the form of an exposition of the reasons for the mitzvot. 

His motivation for engaging in this task is explicit: 

On the face of it, it should be clear to us that Judaism's revival and revitalization, even 
its remaining firm in its present position, must be based on an inner light, on knowledge and 

feeling, which distill love and give firmness to the actions that derive from them. Toward this 
end, the most important task is a popularization of the study of the reasons for the 
commandments in depth and originality. 17 

Rav Kook acknowledges his debt to Maimonides, who was the "first one to illumine our horizon by 

probing the reasons for the commandments..." In Talelei Orot (Fragments of Light) he compares his 

own affirmation and use of the theory of evolution (see Introduction, p. 30) with Maimonides' 

encounter with "...the Greek conception of the eternity of the universe,.. [Maimonides] was very 

successful, not only in demonstrating a way of maintaining the divine idea on the basis of the belief 

in creation, but also by utilizing the ideology of the adversary." Maimonides' efforts in regard to 

seeking the reasons for the commandments, however, failed to "evoke any reaction." He identifies 

Maimonides' main objective to be the uprooting of idolatry; Maimonides' argment is therefore 

oriented to a "cultural force of the past" which, while it "continues to release an idealistic spirit. 

bound to weaken, since its brightest epoch is the past. In truth, however, the basic principle immanent 

in the reasons for the commandments points to the future." 18 

According to Jacob Agus, "Maimonides was concerned with the justification of Judaism as 

a historical phenomenon of Divine Revelation," while Rav Kook's intention was reinterpret Jewish ceremonials and rituals with the view of revealing their profound 
significance to modern Jews. In this colossal endeavor, the basic maxim was, "as there are 
laws to poetry, so there is poetry in laws." He expounded the whole regimen of pious Jewish 
practice as a kind of symphonic variation on the central themes of the love of God, the love 
of humanity, and the love of Israel. 19 

In Rav Kook's explanation of the deeper meaning of certain of the commandments, it is evident that 
one of these "variations" is the love of the living beings who serve humanity and who are "constantly 
bringing forth everything beautiful." 20 

"A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace" is Rav Kook's explication of those regulations which 
guide or restrict the human use of animals and of animal products, which he calls their "natural 
possessions." Kook addresses, in addition to theNoahide permission to eat meat in contrast with the 
original vegetarian diet (see above), these specific practices: the commandment concerning covering 
the blood of slaughtered animals, ritual slaughter (shehjta), the prohibition of eating the fat of animals 
( issur chelev ), the separation of milk and meat, the separation of wool and linen (shatnez), and the 

prohibition of the eating of nevelah (carcasses) and terefah (animals that are torn or injured). He also 

addresses in more general terms the relations between human society and the animal world, and the 

progression of this relationship toward a Messianic ideal, explaining how this progression is reflected 

in the various practices and restrictions. 

There are a number of particular stylistic and methodological characteristics in Rav Kook's 

writings which present a challenge to the translator, and to the reader of the translation. 

Even the Hebrew reader often finds himself baffled by Rabbi Kook's unique style, which 
abounds in poetic imagery, in all kinds of allusions to Rabbinic, Kabbalistic, and Hasidic 
teachings. Like all mystics trying to communicate the ineffable, he uses a profusion of words 
but can only hint at his meaning, without giving it precise formulation. 21 

In the case of "A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace," this "profusion of words" for the most part 
enhances the poetic quality of the work, rather than weighing it down. It does give rise, however, to 
a certain amount of repetition of terms and concepts, reflective of Rav Kook's philosophy, which are 
used frequently throughout the work, although in different contexts. 

Another facet of Rav Kook's method which pertains to this work is that he "... frequently 
expounds a traditional concept in an altogether new direction, and then quotes a classic text which 
appears to confirm his meaning. But in such instances he has also expanded the sense of the text to 
bring the two meanings in conformity. " 22 In the translation which follows, such concepts and allusions 
to previous teachings are indicated and their sources given in footnotes. 

There is one such concept, central to the work and used repeatedly, which merits discussion 
at this point. It is indicated by the Hebrew word ha'arah which means, according to Jacob Klatzkin's 
Qtzar Hamunahim Hafilosofi'im ( Dictionary of [Hebrew] Philosophical Terms ) 23 "the urging or 
spurring on of intellect and mind ( zeruz hasechel vehada'at) ." Klatzkin refers to Bahya Ibn Pakuda's 
Book of Direction to the Duties of the Heart and, indeed, when Rav Kook introduces these terms (see 
Section 3 of the translation) he refers to this work of medieval Jewish philosophy. 

For Bahya there are two sources of this urging or prompting: the intellect, and the Torah or 

revealed teachings f ha'arat hasechel and ha'arathatorah ). In Duties these terms are distinct, yet closely 

related. The purpose of this stimulation or prompting is spur [the individual] on to his obligation to realize his obedience to God both in action 
and in the faith of the heart, so that he will not be left directionless until he understands it by 

himself. This exhortation is of two kinds: the first, based on the mind, is rooted in man's 
discrimination and is impressed on him from his creation; the other is gained by way of 
tradition and is contained in the revealed law which the prophet [Moses] gave the people to 
direct them in the way of God's obedience obligatory upon them. 24 

Bahya goes on to explain that because of three points of weakness of "the exhortation based on the 

mind," both kinds of "arousal" are necessary. As a result of these weaknesses, is necessary to arouse man by the Law, which includes all the commandments imposed 
by both reason and revelation to arouse him to ascend to God's obedience, which is obligatory 
upon him also by way of logical demonstration. This obedience is the final purpose of the 
creation of mankind in this world. 25 

Furthermore, the prompting of the Torah and of the intellect are characterized as "outside 

exhortation" and "inner exhortation," respectively; the external prompting of the Torah is "...the cause 

of the other, a step leading to the higher one. . . Submission through alertness of the mind and through 

logical demonstration is better in God's eyes, preferable to Him and more pleasing, for seven 

reasons." 26 Two of these reasons are particularly relevant to Rav Kook's work. One is, 

...that obedience based on the Law comes only after man has been made to fear his 
punishment or wish for his reward, while the obedience based on the arousal of the mind 
springs from the soul's munificence and from its endeavor to concentrate all its efforts on 
God's obedience for His own sake, when it has known and understood it. 27 

[Another] reason why obedience based on the mind is preferable is that the duties 
based on the Law are limited and finite in number, being six hundred and thirteen altogether, 
while the duties imposed by the mind are limitless. This is because every passing day increases 
man's knowledge of them, and the more he understands and discriminates of God's graces 
done to him, of His omnipotence and sovereignty, the more submissive and humble he grows 
before Him. 28 

On the other hand, Bahya also lists seven advantages to the Torah's prompting. Again, two 

are particularly relevant to Rav Kook's concerns: 

...the exhortation of the Law is an introduction and an initiation into the persuasion of the 
mind, and a direction to it, for a man in his youth is in need of education and management to 
help him overcome his desires until he grows up and his mind strengthens... [People] need a 
moderate rule, one they can bear without its being impossible for them to grasp. 29 

The [next] reason is that the Law includes certain matters whose obligation cannot 
be grasped by the mind, namely, the duties imposed by revelation and some of the basic 
intelligible rules. This was made necessary by the condition of the people at the time when the 

Law was revealed to them. They were ruled by their animal desires then, with mind and 
discrimination too weak to grasp most of the intelligible things. So the Law treated them in 
the same way, making both intelligible duties and those imposed by revelation equal in their 
force. 30 

In using these concepts of Bahya's Rav Kook does not speak in terms of obedience to God 

and submission to God's authority; instead, he uses the term "morality." In Rav Kook's thought, 

While the roots of morality are to be found in human nature itself, its fullest unfolding is 
dependent on the influences of the teachings and disciplines of religion and on the refining 
service of reason. The moral life expresses the highest response to God's existence. 31 

And, in an example of taking a traditional concept in a new direction, Rav Kook juxtaposes reason 

and revelation in a striking parallel to, and expansion of, Bahya's conception: 

Understanding reached by one's own mind - this is the highest expression of spiritual 
progress. All that is learned by study is absorbed from the outside, and is of lesser significance 
as compared with what is thought through within the soul itself. All that is acquired by study 
is only a profound strategy as to how to draw on what is hidden in the heart, in the depths of 
the soul, one's inner understanding, from the knowledge within. Knowledge in our 

inner being continues to stream forth. It creates, it acts. 32 

Yet we have seen (see Introduction, p. 29) that, for Rav Kook, the faculty of reason is inadequate 
for the task of reaching a true and comprehensive understanding of the nature of reality; the mystical 
vision plays an indispensable role. For him, then, as for Bahya, the characterizations of the relative 
merits of the intellectual prompting and the prompting of the Torah are by no means absolute. 

In the translation of Duties of the Heart used here these two concepts, ha'arat hasechel and 
ha'arat hatorah. are variously rendered as "logical exhortation" or "the mind's arousal" and 
"exhortation used by Scriptures" or "persuasion of the Law," among other terms. Terms used to 
translate the word ha'arah by itself include "exhortation," "arousal," and "spurring on." In another 
translation 33 the concepts are translated as "the form which the Torah takes to arouse us" or "the urge 
of the Torah" and "the way in which our reasoning prompts us" or "the urge of the understanding;" 
terms used to render ha'arah by itself are "prompting," "arousing," "stimulation," or "calling 
attention," among others 

These terms are used, in different contexts, throughout "A Vision of Vegetarianism and 
Peace;" the phrases "prompting of the Torah" and "prompting of the intellect" (or "intellectual 

prompting" when the usage in the Hebrew is adjectival), with quotation marks, have been used 
consistently throughout this translation. Where the word ha'arah appears independently, it has been 
translated according to its context, without the use of quotation marks. 

Passages from other works which may serve to elucidate or augment the text are provided 
in footnotes. The editor's own references are included as well, and his notes, where they occur, have 
been translated. Discrepancies between the editor's reference and the available sources have been 
noted, and some references which the editor did not provide have been included. 

Where literal translations of specific terms or phrases seem awkward, they have been rendered 
idiomatically, with the literal meanings given in brackets. Wherever possible, gender-neutral words 
are used for Hebrew terms which are grammatically masculine, such as ha'adam . 

It is hoped that this translation will provide not only a glimpse of the man, his vision and spirit, 
but will also inspire a deeper understanding of an issue, the rights of animals, which has important 
practical and spiritual implications in our day and age. This will be discussed further in the conclusion. 

Notes to the Preface to the Translation 

1. Elijah Judah Schochet, Animal Life in Jewish Tradition (New York: Ktav, 1984), p. 293. 

2. Lahai ro'i (Jerusalem: Boys Town Press, 1961). 

3. Hazon hatzimhonut vehashalom (Jerusalem: Nezer David, 1983). 

4. Ben Zion Bokser, Abraham Isaac Kook (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), pp. 303-323. 

5. Kook, "Fragments of Light," in Bokser, pp. 304, 308-309, 317-323. 

6. Bokser, p. 249. 

7. Gershon Mamlak, "Abraham Isaac Kook: The Sacred Element in Zionism," Midstream (December, 1985), p 

8. See "A Vision...," Section 2, Note 7. 

9. The Guide of the Perplexed, 111:48. Maimonides expressed the view that animal flesh was a natural source of 
human food that was necessary for health. 

10. Samuel Dresner, The Jewish Dietary Laws (New York: Burning Bush Press, 1966). 

11. Ibid., p. 27 

12. Pinchas H. Peli, "Why Kashrut?", Jerusalem Post International Edition, Week ending April 20, 1985, p. 10. 

13. Shabbat 128b 

14. Mishneh Torah, Nezikim, Hilkhot Rotzeah Ushemirot Nefesh, Chapter 13; Moreh Nevukhim 3:48; See "A 
Vision...," Section 14, Note 55. 

15. Sefer Haikkarim , trans. Isaac Husik, Vol. Ill, Chapter 15. See "A Vision...," Section 12, Note 40. 

16. Moses Cordovero, The Palm Tree of Deborah, trans. Louis Jacobs (London: Valentine, Mitchell, & Co., 1960), 
pp. 83-85. 

17. Kook, "Fragments of Light," in Bokser, p. 303. 

18. Ibid, PP 303-306. 

19. Jacob Agus, High Priest of Rebirth , p. 197- 198. 

20. Kook, The Lights o f Holiness, in Bokser, p. 223. 

21. Bokser, "Rabbi Kook as a Mystic," Judaism, Vol. 24 No. 1 (Winter 1975), p. 119. 

22. Ibid, PP- 120-121. 

23. Jacob Klatzkin, Otzar Hamunahim Hafilosofi'im (New York: Philipp Feldheim, 1968), Vol. 2, p. 191. 

24. Bahya Ibn Pakuda, The Book of Direction to the Duties of the Heart , trans. Menahem Mansoor (London: 
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973), pp. 180-181. 

25. Ibid., p. 182. 

26. Ibid., p. 183. 

27. Ibid. 

28. Ibid., p. 184. 

29. Ibid., p. 187. 

30. Ibid., p. 188. 

31. Bokser, Abraham Isaac Kook, p. 131. 

32. Kook, The Lights of Holiness , in Bokser, Abraham Isaac Kook , p. 216. 

33. Bahya Ibn Pakuda, Duties of the Heart , trans. Moses Hyamson (New York: Bloch, 1941), Vol. II, pp. 34ff. 


Rav Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook 

1. Justice regarding animals 

There is one essential branch of higher human progress which exists at this time, according 
to the present state of our culture, only as the appealing dream of certain radical idealists: namely, 
the natural moral aspiration, owing to the human sense of uprightness, to pay particular regard to 
the rights 1 of animals, in the fullest sense. 

The cruel philosophies, especially those which are the most heretical [which have broken 
away most completely from the obligations of the Torah], each in its own way makes it easy for 
the human being to completely stifle the inner sense of what is right with regard to animals, in 
keeping with their view of human morality from the standpoint of general philosophy. 2 They have 
not managed, nor will they manage, with all their clever counsel, to change the character of the 
natural justice which the Creator has implanted within each individual. And even though, with 
regard to animals, this [sense of justice] is very much like the glow of a dim and smoldering ember 
buried beneath a great heap of ashes, nevertheless it is impossible to deny what is felt in every 
sensitive heart: that the failure of human nature to fulfill a fine and noble sentiment - refraining 
from taking the life of living beings for human needs and pleasures - is a universal moral 

Our sages did not engage in this sort of clever philosophizing [like the heretical 
philosophers] but told, rather, the story of how our holy Rabbi [Judah Hanasi] was punished with 
suffering when he said to the calf, which was being led to the slaughter and which sought to hide 

1 The Hebrew word mishpat is singular, meaning also "justice" or "cause." In "Fragments of Light" Rav Kook 
uses the phrase "the claim of their rights (zechuyotehem) from mankind" in a similar context (in Bokser, Abraham 
Isaac Kook, p. 3 17). 

2 This may be considered as an expression of "...the anguish of the mystic who has discovered, through the trials 
of his own experience, the unity of existence. He knows the error of the different philosophies derived from 
following the different side roads of the truth, the basic truth not having been revealed to them - the certainty of 
God's presence in existence." (Bokser, p. xviii.) 

behind his robe:"Go; for this you were created." And his healing came about because of a 
subsequent incident in which he showed compassion for weasels. 3 Here they [the rabbis] did not 
act as the philosophers did in turning darkness into light in order to accommodate the practical 
demands of life. For it is altogether impossible to conceive of the Blessed Ruler of all creation, 
who is merciful to all creatures, praise God, imposing upon this most excellent creation an eternal 
decree such as this : that the human race would maintain its existence by going against its moral 
sensibilities through the shedding of blood, albeit the blood of animals. 

2. Meat was not permitted to the first human being 

There is no doubt in the mind of any enlightened thinker that the "dominion" spoken of in 
the Torah - "They shall have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and over 
every living being that moves on the earth." 4 - cannot refer to the dominion of a tyrannical ruler 
who treats both subjects and servants cruelly in order to satisfy his personal, arbitrary desires. It is 
unthinkable that there should be an institution of servitude as ugly as this, stamped with an eternal 
seal in the world of a God who is good to all, whose "compassion extends to all creatures;" 5 as it 
is said, "a world built on lovingkindness." 6 

Furthermore, the Torah has already testified that at one time all of humanity was 
encouraged to raise itself to this exalted moral state [of not shedding blood in order to obtain 
food], as our sages explained in their writings, which prove that the first human being was not 
allowed meat as food: "every tree yielding seed shall be yours for food." 7 Only after the children 

3 Baba Metzia 85b. (ed.) 

4 Genesis 1:28. (ed.) 

5 Psalm 145:9. (ed.) 

6 Psalm 89:3 (ed.) 

7 Genesis 1:29. The "writings of the sages" includes a passage in Sanhedrin 59b (ed.: 59a) and the 
commentaries of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, the Ramban, and Abravanel on the biblical verse, (ed.) All of the commentators 
note that meat was not permitted as food to the first human beings or to the animals; Ibn Ezra, the Ramban, and 
Abravanel point out the differences in the original diet of human beings and animals. The Ramban further states 
that the reason that the eating of meat was not permitted "is because all creatures who possess a vital [lit. ' moving'] 

of Noah came, following the flood, was [the eating of meat] permitted to them: "As with the 
green herbs, I give you everything." 8 And henceforth, is it possible to conceive that a highly 
valued moral virtue, which had already existed as a part of the human legacy, should be lost 
forever? Regarding these and similar matters it is said: "I will get knowledge from afar, and 
ascribe righteousness to my Maker." 9 The future will broaden our steps [i.e.: give us grounds to 
proceed more confidently] and extricate us from this complex problem. 

3. "The prompting of the Torah" and "the prompting of the intellect." 10 

Concerning humanity, the pious one [Bahya Ibn Pakuda, author of] Duties of the Heart . 11 
has explained well that the ethical foundation is built upon the foundations of two sources of 
motivation: "the prompting of the Torah" and "the prompting of the intellect;" and "the prompting 
of the Torah" brings about "the intellectual prompting." When [the latter] is perfected in a person, 
that person continually walks the lofty and sublime path of righteousness because of it. The 
purpose of "the prompting of the Torah" is likewise to bring a person to the perfection of "the 
intellectual prompting." The same rule applies to both the individual and the group, the difference 
being that the way of the individual is short and straight, and the way of society is long and 
complicated. The Torah prepares one for "the religious prompting" 12 , in a measure appropriate for 
each individual, according to the reckoning of the God of knowledge, the blessed Giver of the 
Torah, and in a manner whereby humanity in its group identity will also attain through it ["the 
religious prompting"] "the intellectual prompting," when [humanity] as a group will be fully ready 

soul have a level of superiority with regard to their soul which is similar to those who possess a rational soul: they 
make choices concerning their welfare and their [means] of sustenance, and they seek to avoid [lit. 'flee from'] pain 
and death. Scripture says in this regard: "Who knows if the human soul rises upward, and the soul of the animal 
sinks down into the earth.?'(Ecclesiastes 3:21)" 

8 Genesis 9:3, and Rashi's commentary, (ed.) The verse begins: "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for 
you." Rashi refers back to Genesis 1:29. 

9 Job 36:3. (ed.: 35:3) 

10 See "Preface to the Translation," pp. 45-49. 

11 Duties of the Heart, Gate of Service, end of introduction and Sections 1-5. (ed.) See "Preface," pp. 46-47, 
notes 25-31. 

'" Haha'arah hatorit. 

for it. The same "intellectual prompting" which, at the time of the spirit's descent, is the 
possession of only a small part of humanity, from among its loftiest saints and sages, will become 
the way of the many, 13 when that which is written comes to pass: "And all your children shall be 
taught of the Lord;" 14 [and] "I will place my teaching into their inmost being, and inscribe it upon 
their hearts." 15 We need, however, to look into those very impressions which the Torah gives, so 
that through them the divine intellectual light will come again. 

It is understood that we can in no way set a time for this [spiritual and moral] elevation, 
and it is put in the same broad category which includes other lofty qualities which are distinct 
from one another: that is to say, the category of the future to come, which includes among its 
aspects the coming of the Messiah and the revival of the dead. We are not discussing here specific 
times and their characteristics, but the impressions laid down by the Torah, in which we find the 
progression of ideals [toward realization], 

4. Meat of desire [to satisfy the appetite] 

With the coming of the permission to eat meat, after the sacralization of the mitzvot by the 
giving of the Torah, [the Torah] qualifies [the permission], as suggested by the words, "[when] 
you say, T shall eat meat,' for you have the urge to eat meat, you may eat meat whenever you 
wish." 16 There is here a wise yet hidden rebuke and a restrictive exhortation, namely, that as long 
as your inner morality does not abhor the eating of animal flesh, as you already abhor [the eating 
of] human flesh (in regard to which it is not necessary for the Torah to make an explicit 
prohibition, since one does not need an external warning when one has already acquired a certain 

13 In The Lights of Holiness Rav Kook speaks of the joining of "the spirit of the masses with the aristocratic 
spirit that is characteristic of the elitist few." The elite, however, are in error when they think they can separate 
themselves from the masses, "...the basic moral sensibility... the religious sensibility, the feeling of the greatness of 
God, the sense of beauty, sensitivity - everything that pertains to a proper way of life, unfiltered in the murky 
vessels of knowledge and wisdom, is in a healthier and purer state among the masses." But the masses are unable 
to preserve their purity, to integrate all their feelings and thoughts, and to hold their own against "contradictory 
perceptions and feelings.... For this they need the help of the great men of wisdom, to set straight for them the paths 
of their life." (InBokser, pp. 224-225.) 

14 Isaiah 54: 13. (ed.) 

15 Jeremiah 31:33. (ed: 31:32) • 

16 Deuteronomy 12:20. (ed.) 

concept [such as the revulsion for human flesh] naturally, as has been explained), then when the 
time comes for the human moral condition to abhor [eating] the flesh of animals, because of the 
moral loathing inherent in that act, you surely "will not have the urge to eat meat," and you will 
not eat it, since we know that [with regard to] "words of Torah, the positive is inferred from the 
negative and the negative from the positive." 17 

5. An am ha'aretz [ignorant or uncultured person] is prohibited from eating meat 

Our sages noted that meat was permitted as a "permission on account of difficulty" 
[because prohibiting the eating of meat, while morally desirable, would have been untenable in 
practice], and said "an am ha'aretz is prohibited from eating meat, for it is said, 'This is the law 
[ torat ] of beast and fowl.' 18 Whoever engages in the study of the law of beast and fowl may eat 
meat." 19 That is to say, the necessity to renew one's strength for intellectual endeavors, from 
which and through which a person is perfected, which is the same strength that is at work in the 
ascent of the creatures as well; 20 [that strength] is engaged in the [study of] "the law of beast and 
fowl." When the connections [among all existence] are realized, then the [corresponding] action 
[to be taken in regard to animals] will be brought to light. 

17 Nedarim 1 la; Palestinian Talmud, Nedarim 1:4; Mekhilta, Yitro, Bahodesh:8; Rashi's commentary on 
Exodus 20:12. (ed.) The wording here is according to the Mekhilta, where the phrase refers to Exodus 20:12: 
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long." "If you honor them, then your days will be long; 
if not, then your days will be short. . .For the words of the Torah are interpreted so that the positive may be inferred 
from the negative and the negative inferred from the positive." In the Palestinian Talmud, the context is a 
discussion of the eating of consecrated and unconsecrated food only the fust part of the principle is stated: "you 
may infer a positive statement from a negative one." Rashi's comment on the verse in Exodus refers to the 

Rav Kook uses the principle here to infer a negative from a positive: since you will eat meat because you crave 
it, then when you no longer crave it you will not eat it. 

18 Leviticus 1 1:45. The statement follows a lengthy and complex list of instructions. 

19 Pesahim 49b. (ed.) Afikim Banegev adds the continuation of the Talmudio passage: "and whoever does not 
study the law of beast and fowl may not eat meat." 

20 See sections 31 and 32. 

6. The permission [to eat meat] at the time of moral downfall 

Animals, too, must pay the price of passage, even as human beings pay a great many taxes. 
On the human community's altar of compensation are sacrificed a great many human lives, but the 
glorious future will wipe away all tears. "The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces." 21 

Indeed, after human dissolution has occurred, which is likewise a consequence of 
humanity's moral failing, the eating of meat is to be expected [lit. "appropriate"]. This being the 
case, it was already established, from the point of view of "the intellectual prompting" which is 
hidden in the depths of the Torah, that the very same permission to eat meat, granted after the 
flood, was not intended to be the actual practice for all time. For how is it possible for a lofty and 
enlightened moral condition, once instituted, to vanish [as though it had never been]? 

On the contrary, the divine wisdom perceived that humanity had fallen from its [original] 
moral state, and that until it has risen to its [previous] stature, awakening to true moral cognition - 
until such a blessed and enlightened time, the high level of morality inherent in the recognition of 
the rights of animals is not expected of [lit. "appropriate for"] general humanity. 

And just as it is the case with whoever hastily professes a level of piety so unsuitable that 
it only brings confusion to that person's thinking and way of life, so it is with humanity in general, 
in that it has fallen to the lowest level of moral decline, to the extent that the power which one 
human being exercises over another has become detrimental, and to the point where the basest 
kind of personal moral decline occurs. [Humanity] "is abominable and filthy,... drinking iniquity 
like water." 22 How ludicrous it would be if humanity, as long as its impurities are within it, would 
hypocritically [lit.: "remove its hooves," i.e. giving a false impression] turn to a farfetched way of 
righteousness, showing itself to be righteous [only] with regard to animals, as if all accounts 
between human beings, created in the divine image, had been settled, as if everything had already 
been set aright, and the rule of evil and falsehood had been banished; as if hatred between peoples, 
national rivalries, racial animosity, and family strife, which cause so many mortal casualties and 
spill so much blood - as if all these had already disappeared from the earth, and the only way left 

21 Isaiah 25:8. (ed.: 25:36) 

22 Job 15:16. (ed.) 

in which to elevate human piety was to attend to the establishment of a moral foundation in regard 
to animals. 

Therefore this is not a fitting standard for humanity in general as long as [humanity] 
remains in its [state of moral] baseness, except insofar as it does not overtax the capacity which it 
is possible for the force of human morality, in its weakened state, to sustain. There is no doubt 
that if the prohibition of the killing of animals was made known as a religious and moral 
pronouncement issuing from the untainted sensibility of divine justice, whose nature it is to radiate 
out to all creatures and to instill the recognition that the holiness of God's gifts suffuses all living 
beings, and all humanity - [if this prohibition were in force] while at the same time the general 
moral condition were still impaired, and the spirit of impurity had not yet passed from the world, 
there is no doubt that this circumstance would result in many impediments [to spiritual progress]. 
When the animal-like craving to eat meat would become overpowering, it would then make no 
distinction made between the flesh of human beings and the flesh of animals, since in any case the 
[eating of the] life [ nefesh ] of the animal [as well as of the human being] is proscribed as a 
prohibition and a violation of law, and the killing and sacrificing of human beings in order to eat 
their flesh would become a widespread phenomenon. The eating of human flesh would become so 
natural that, once the wide gap between human beings and animals, in terms of the relative value 
of their lives, has been breached, there would no longer be any trace of [lit: "any way to find"] the 
natural abhorrence [to this practice], which humanity in its improved state possesses at the present 

7. A concession on the part of divine reasoning 

As long as the human heart is not naturally set on good and just behavior; as long as the true 
divine knowledge of doing acts of lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth 23 is not 
universally inscribed in the human heart; as long as humanity requires external teachers in matters 
of moral duty and human uprightness; it will also require many limitations and precautions so that 
its system of behavior will not be disrupted, until such time as it will be fit to receive the desired 

23 After Jeremiah 9:23. Maimonides, at the end of the Guide of the Perplexed (111:54), describes these as the 
divine attributes which are to be known, imitated, and assimilated by the individual who seeks perfection. 


And at times it will be necessary to concede an authoritative part of our moral practices, in 
order that this indulgence may in fact make humanity fit for its own higher moral standard; this 
very concession then becomes holy and exalted. It is not possible to determine these matters 
except through the mind of God, by the standard [lit. "coin] of divine knowledge which surveys 
and encompasses all. "I, God, am first, and I am the One who calls [even] the last generations 
from the beginning." 24 

If we had started out with that which should properly have been delayed to a later time, 
then we would have lost everything. 25 Many deceptive notions which float about in the world, and 
many who act as agents on their behalf and on behalf of those who hold these views, came about 
only as a result of that exaggerated sense of aspiring which does not know that there is a proper 
time for every purpose and which knows no restraint or bounds. It does not possess enough 
intelligence to arrive at the wisdom hidden in pure faith, so as to know the power of the divine 
teaching [torah], whether in its compelling of humanity on towards a higher level, or in its taking 
humanity by the hand and gently leading it according to its capacity. "I draw them with human 
cords, with strings of love." 26 

8. Our estrangement from animal society 

Since human morality is still contingent upon weakness, humanity's animal-like self-love 
has the potential to take complete control, until all laws of justice and uprightness are destroyed, 
until the glory that is morality becomes a mere game. This being the case, it is clear that it is 
necessary for humanity to perceive itself as existing in a sphere far removed from the society of 
animals, which exists at a vast and profound distance below, so that people will not feel that they 
are simply one of them. For if this were the case, then the bestial habits which drag humanity's 
spirit down to the muddy depths of the animals, whose world consists of nothing more than 
natural sensory instincts, with their attending crude restrictions and limitations, would be im- 
pressed upon humanity. 

24 Isaiah 41:4. (ed.) The text here reverses the phrases as they appear in the Bible. 

25 i.e., if the rights of animals were of equal priority to those of human beings. 
26 Hoseall:4. (ed.: 11:5) 


If the obligation of righteousness with regard to animals were established as a practice, as 
it is with regard to interpersonal relations, it would greatly hinder both the elevation of the spirit 
of human uprightness, and those noble ideas which that elevation has engendered. For it is quite 
necessary for humanity to advance toward this elevated state and away from the lowly habits of 
the rest of the animals, whose universe is comprised solely of their stomachs and physical grati- 
fication; [for to sink to this level] would be liable to cause people to forget their superiority as 
human beings in relation to animals, [and cause people] to be thought of as nothing more than 
wild beasts. 27 

9. Preventing the debasement of the masses 

To impose the obligation of uprightness toward animals upon humanity as a matter of law 
would have an effect which is completely opposite from the intent. 28 The end result would be the 
debasement of humanity to the level of the animals. We cannot depict how this would affect the 
those perfect individuals who are distinguished in each generation, since it is doubtful as to 
whether the human spirit, once it has descended into a crude intermingling with animals, would 
then be in any way equipped to produce individuals who manifest spiritual excellence. Its effect on 
the widespread debasement of the masses, however, can be easily imagined and understood by the 
intellect, in that it [the legislation of uprightness toward animals] would greatly diminish their [the 
masses'] moral worth. 

Consider this holy and lofty biblical saying: "Be not like the horse or the mule, which have 
no understanding." 29 If this saying did not have the authenticity [lit. "naturalness"] that it has for 
us, what else in the way of a moral weapon could we bring to bear in order to teach a person of 
discernment to rise above the practices of the animals, who are immersed solely in the realm of the 
body and its demands. And to those 30 who belong to the masses, who relinquish the splendor of 
their soul for the sake of their own crude craving, and desire to descend even further into the 

27 Or "beasts of the field" {bahamot sadai). See Joel 2:22 and Psalm 8:8. Sadai is an archaic form of sadeh. 
25 A similar statement is made with respect to the mitzvah of covering the blood (see Section 14). 

29 Psalm 32:9. (ed.) 

30 The Hebrew text uses the singular. 

ways of the animals in order to evade a multitude of moral reckonings, for the purpose of 
enjoying the crude sensual pleasures of the moment, [the above-mentioned saying teaches that] 
"what goes around, comes around" [lit. "as it goes, so it is found," i.e., whoever chooses the 
pleasures of the moment will suffer the consequences in the long run]. 31 

Therefore we cannot imagine how wonderful is the overflow of the divine knowledge 
which precluded any relation between human beings and animals. 32 

10. The triumph of moral truth 

It was necessary to bring together [lit. "complete"] all of [the preceding concerns] under 
the exemption, which the Torah grants [to humanity], from many moral obligations which pertain 
to animals, allowing humanity to obtain what it desires even to the extent of taking their lives. On 
this account humanity will come to the profound recognition of its superiority in relation to [ani- 
mals], so that its spirit will be elevated to the highest moral aspirations, which by their nature 
come with the elevation of the human spirit, by means of the sanctification [lit. "sanctity"] of 
actions and superior character traits. The final result will be the triumph of absolute moral truth, 
when the knowledge of God will truly be present throughout the earth, until humanity will no 
longer have any need for any moral concession, 33 and it will be possible for the standard [lit. 
" midah "] of justice to endure for eternity, as was originally intended "when God began creation." 34 

31 Gittin 13a (ed.): zila le shekhiha le (Rav Kook's text reads dezilan le). The context is a discussion of the 
rights and benefits of slaves who run away or are freed. This phrase occurs in a tangential statement: "A slave 
prefers a common woman.. .she is at his beck and call..." (Soncino Talmud, p. 46.) 

32 This would not be the case if, as stated in the first sentence, our obligations to animals were a matter of law. 

33 Such as the permission to eat meat. See Section 12. 

34 Genesis Rabbah 8:4 (Soncino Vol. I, p. 57) and 14: 1 (p. Ill), and Rashi's commentary, (ed.) The first 
passage recounts that God, in considering the creation of humanity, took into account the quality [or standard: 
midah] of mercy as well as the quality of justice; the quality of justice alone would net hav2 permitted the creation 
of the wicked along with the righteous. The second passage cites Proverbs 29:4, "Ey justice a king establishes the 
land," as a prooftext for the claim that God created the world on the basis of justice. 


11. The Torah speaks with respect to the evil inclination 

Furthermore, if the moral obligations of human beings towards animals were in frequent 
practice, but at a time characterized by a lack of moral perfection, there is another way in which 
these practices would cause many evils, and hinder the development of human morality. For there 
is a feeling of goodness and uprightness in the human being which seeks to carry out its task, and 
sometimes, even for the wicked of the earth, it knocks on the door of the heart, and they are 
compelled to seek some way of assuaging the natural hunger for justice, which is the basis of the 
powerful longing which upholds the world. And occasionally you find a thoroughly wicked person 
who chooses a moral issue and is more than willing to act justly, in order to assuage by this action 
the pangs of conscience and the natural remorse which at times exists within that person. And if 
kindly behavior towards animals were widespread owing to the desire for righteousness fixed 
within the human species, and if this were accompanied by the obligatory system of moral 
obligations pertaining to [animals], even if only of a negative nature, then we would find a great 
multitude of evil people who, seeking their prey like packs of wolves, would be mercilessly 
slaughtering human beings; and when their pangs of conscience would trouble them, they would 
be filled with relief by virtue of their kindness toward animals. For the causes which bring about 
abuses in the rule of human beings over each other, to their detriment, and which for the most part 
come about because of hatred, jealousy, and the like, are not the same in relation to animals, since 
animals are not included within the boundaries of either the food, the honorabieness [lit. "honor"], 
or the cravings of these evil ones. 

The perverse use of the human intellect for evil purposes in this situation finds ample 
opportunity [lit. "a wide field"] to generate contentiousness in thinking, and that critique which 
criticizes faults, while presenting rules which it finds [as applying] to human beings but which are 
not representative of animals, actually strengthens the hand of these evildoers, and it is impossible 
to measure the turmoil, deficiency, and distress, the delay of judgement and the perversion of 
justice, which have emerged 35 in consequence of these well-known approbations. 36 

35 Afikim Banegev shows "yotzim" in place of "inotzim." 

36 In this difficult passage Rav Kook seems to be saying that the application of a set of rules of conduct towards 
animals which is different from that which is applied to humanity is a cause of the injustice and trauma which the 
animals suffer; in consequence, the evildoers have a good excuse to hypocritical'}' devote themselves to the welfare 


Therefore the divine approbation sees that only it is capable of paving the way within the 
conscience and the heart, of severing the cord which connects the human being to the animals, in 
order to focus the human moral core on its unique goodness. Then and only then will [that moral 
core] succeed in bringing about its [concomitant] happiness in the end of days. 

12. The age of pure morality and peace 

When humanity arrives at its goal of happiness and complete freedom, when it reaches that 
high peak of wholeness which is the pure knowledge of God and the sanctification of life fulfilled 
according to its nature, then the age of "the prompting of the intellect" will arrive, like a structure 
built on the foundation of "the prompting of the Torah," which is prior for the whole of humanity. 
Then human beings will recognize their relationship with all the animals, who are their com- 
panions in creation, and how they should properly be able, from the standpoint of pure morality, 
to combine the standard of mercy with the standard of justice 37 in particular relation to [the 
animals] 38 , and they will no longer be in need of extenuating concessions, like the concessions 
[referred to in the Talmud by the phrase:] "The Torah speaks only of the evil inclination;" 39 rather, 
they will walk the path of absolute good. 40 "I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the 
field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; I will also banish bow, sword, and 
war from the land. " 41 

of animals at the expense of human beings. 

37 See Section 10, particularly Note 34. 

38 This phrase, b'yahas elav haprati, is found in Afikim Banegev but not in the editor's text. 

w Kiddushin 3 lb. (ed. :31a) The context is a discussion of the taking of and cohabitation with female captives. 
"The permission to take a beautiful captive is a concession to human failings, which priests share equally with 
Israelites." (Soncino, p. 103, note 8.) 

40 The notion expressed in the last several sections, that the permission to eat meat was a part of the education 
of humanity as to its true, elevated moral nature (see p. 18 in particular), and that once this elevated state was 
realized the permission will no longer need to be in force, is also reflected in the thinking of the fifteenth-century 
Jewish philosopher Joseph Albo. His position, which is parallel to that of Rav Kook, is summarized as follows: 
" is necessary for man to view himself as being above the level of the animal. Otherwise he will sink to the level 
of the beast in moral and ethical behavior patterns. However, once man truly recognizes his elevated status and true 
spiritual essence, there is no longer any need for him to lord it over the animal kingdom, and surely no need for 
him to consume their flesh merely as a pedagogical device! For in reality, the killing of an animal is a cruel act and 
a dangerous habit for one to accustom himself to." (Schochet, p. 292.) 

41 Hosea 2:20. (ed : 12:20) 

13. The mitzvot as windows to the light 

In order to prepare for the sign of the moral outcome in the end of days, and to provide 
windows through which the light of the perfect "prompting of the intellect" penetrates, which fol- 
lows "the prompting of the Torah," the mitzvot concerning the regulation of eating meat are 
brought to bear. 42 

I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of precious stones, the whole 
encircling wall of gems. And all your children shall be taught of the Lord, and 
great shall be the peace of your children; you shall be established through 
righteousness. You shall be far removed from violence, and shall have no fear;... 43 
Have no fear, on account of 44 your exalted removal from violence - not only from human 

violence, but also from the violence of any creature, anything living. Your moral weakness, your 

terrible decline, will be transformed, as promised, into the fine and lofty moral fitness which was 

your original condition. "...And of destruction..." 45 you shall have no fear: of your faintheartedness 

and your soul's weakness, which affects the strengthening of [your] standard of morality to a 

greater extent than what is appropriate, according to the strength of the mental faculties of one 

who has received guidance; " shall not come near you." 46 

[With regard to the mitzvot which pertain to eating meat,] 47 in general only those animals 

were permitted which are for the most part reserved for the human table, since they are closely 

akin [to human beings] in their nature; and they are in any case more suitable [for human 

consumption], since they will not to corrupt the human character to the point where it comes to 

resemble [the character of] predators [since the permitted animals are not themselves predatory], 

42 InAfikim Banegev this phrase ("the mitzvot concerning...) occurs at note 47. 

43 Isaiah 54:12-14. The editor summarizes the commentaries of Rashi and Radak on this verse: "Battlements" 
[shimshotayich]: windows through which the [light of the] sun [shemesh] enters. "Precious stones:" which shine 
the brightest. 

44 Afikim banegev shows "pen" instead of "min." 

45 Isaiah 54: 14. This is the continuation of the passage quoted above. 

46 This is the conclusion of Isaiah 54:14. 

47 See note 42. 


as was already made known to the first human beings, and as the elders had explained to Ptolemy, 
according to the testimony of Yosippon. 48 

Indeed, it is precisely because of their close affinity [to us] that the feeling of pity is liable 
to be awakened in us to its fullest extent. This will not be built upon a momentary stirring of 
compassion, at a time when the general moral and material condition of life is not in accordance 
with [such a complete manifestation of compassion], for this mere stirring of compassion is in 
truth only weakness and faintheartedness; it is in itself that very "destruction" [referred to above]. 

Rather, in the fulfillment of the measure of justice - and every condition of life will 
correspond to the standard of absolute morality - this compassion is actually a decree, not a mat- 
ter of doing good as a concession; it is a full-fledged right, a matter of law, a permanent decree 
and rule. "Whoever presents the attributes of God as [manifesting] compassion alone, that person 
is silenced, for they are actually decrees" 49 and righteous judgments, which will be revealed in all 

48 Reference is made here to "The Letter of Aristeas," to A. Kahana's Hasefahm hahitzonim, pp. 47-48, to 
Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, and to the Book of Yosippon (Chapter 17). (ed.) 

"The Letter of Aristeas" is a pseudepigraphic work which purports to tell of the circumstances 
surrounding the translation of the Hebrew scriptures into the Greek Septuagint. It contains much apologetic 
material on Jewish laws and customs, including the passage referred to here: "All these ordinances were made for 
the sake of righteousness to aid the quest for virtue and the perfecting of character. For all the birds that we use are 
tame and distinguished by their cleanliness, feeding on various kinds of grain and pulse... But the birds which are 
forbidden you will find to be wild and carnivorous, tyrannising over the others by the strength which they possess, 
and cruelly obtaining food by preying on the tame birds ...and so by naming them unclean, [Moses] gave a sign by 
means of them that those, for whom the legislation was ordained, must practise righteousness in their hearts and 
not tyrannise over anyone in reliance upon their own strength nor rob them of anything, but steer their course of 
life in accordance with justice,... For since it is considered unseemly even to touch such unclean animals, as have 
been mentioned, on account of their particular habits, ought we not to take every precaution lest our own characters 
should be destroyed to the same extent?" ("The Letter of Aristeas," in R.H. Charles, ed., The Apocrypha and 
Pseudepigrapha (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), Vol. II, p. 108. 

"The Letter of Aristeas" is included in Kahana's Hebrew edition of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Much 
of the letter (although not the passage quoted above) is included in Josephus' account of the origin of the 
Septuagint {Antiquities, Book 12, Chapter 2 (ed.: Book 14)), and it is referred to in Sefer Yosippon, a tenth-century 
history, in Hebrew, of the Second Temple period, the primary source of which is Josephus. 

49 Berachot 33b. (ed.) Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Ahavah, Hilchot Tefillah 9:7) summarizes and interprets 
the Talmudic passage thus: "Whoever says in his supplications, 'He that dealt mercifully with a nest of birds, 
forbidding the taking of the mother-bird together with the nestlings and the slaughter of a beast and its young in 
one day... may He have mercy upon us,' or offers petitions of a similar character, is silenced; for these precepts are 
divine decrees set forth in Scripture and have not been ordained in a spirit of compassion. Were this the motive, 
the slaughtering of all animals would have been prohibited." (Quoted in Schochet, p. 199.) In Moreh Nevuchim, 
however, Maimonides rejects this view. (111:26, 3 1, 48; see Section 14, Note 55.) 

Rav Kook's view is that when the time comes for justice to extend to all the animals and their killing will no 
longer be permitted, it will have the force of a divine decree, and not be a result of "mere" human-like compassion. 


their perfection when the time comes, precisely according to the guidance of the Torah, given at 
the wise discretion of the God of knowledge. 

14. The mitzvot of covering the blood and shehita [ritual slaughter]. 

Covering the blood of beast and fowl is a kind of divine protest against the permission [to 
eat meat], which is fundamentally conditional upon the corrupt state of the human soul: "... for the 
inclination of the human heart is evil from its youth." 50 This is the soul which says, "I will eat 
meat, because of the craving ... to eat meat," 51 and even eats meat "as much as it pleases," 52 
without any concept of inner opposition owing to an awareness of what is good and just. The 
Torah, however, declares, "Cover the blood;" 53 hide your shame and your moral weakness, even 
though humanity has not yet reached the level which it is capable of reaching, nor given this 
elevated morality any real influence in [lit. "access to"] practical living; and even though it has not 
hitherto tested the limits of piety which comes from "the prompting of the intellect," which 
understands and senses full well that one should not take the life of any living, sentient being out 
of necessity or craving. Indeed, the divine acts - the mitzvot - make their own way so as to 
produce the moral preparation which will be actualized when the time comes. 

Accordingly, the very act of slaughtering for food [shehita] needs to be sanctified by 
means of a special characteristic, " I have commanded you;" 54 that is, through minimizing the 
suffering of the animal in order to implant in the human heart, through this [special characteristic], 
the awareness that this is not an encounter with some ownerless thing, which consists of nothing 
but automatic reflexes, but rather with a creature which lives and feels, and whose senses and 
even whose emotions, including sentiments for the life of its family and compassion for its 
offspring, must be taken into consideration. This is evidenced in the Torah by the prohibition of 

50 Genesis 8:21. (ed.) 

51 Deuteronomy 12:20. (ed.) 

52 Ibid. 

53 After Leviticus 17:13: "And if any Israelite or any stranger who resides among them hunts down an animal or 
a bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth." 

Deuteronomy 12:21. (ed.) 


killing a domesticated animal and its young on the same day, 55 by the commandment to wait until 
the eighth day before separating the young from its mother, 56 and by the commandment to send 
the mother bird away from the nest when taking her young. 57 

When these very considerations [lit. "this account in itself] have been nourished by the 
divine holiness of [the divine imperative], "as I have commanded you," 58 it will bear its own fruit 
for the sake of the universal "prompting of the heart," at the time appointed for it. 

And this wonderful thought, too, hangs in the balance on the scales of justice: even though 
the domesticated animal is in every case dependent upon its owner, the owner cannot begin to 
realize even the slightest shadow of shame in slaughtering the animal for food without first caring 
for it and seeing to its needs. And if the mitzvah of covering the blood were in force also in regard 
to [the killing of] domesticated animals, 59 then the awakening of the moral stimulus would already 
have surpassed the level which the divine measure had intended for humanity, according to the 
number of blows which every such action must strike on the door of the human heart, which 
remains closed until opened by such means. "I am asleep but my heart is awake; the voice of my 
beloved persists: 'Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one."' 60 

All this is reckoned well in the mind of the God of knowledge, who creates the human 
spirit. The strict prohibition of blood is sufficient to awaken within us the notion that the shedding 
of blood is on no account a fitting moral standard for a human being. If the [feeling of] shame 
began to be impressed upon us with regard to the slaughtering of domesticated animals [for food], 

55 Leviticus 22:28. Referring to this verse, Maimonides writes: "For the suffering of animals F tza'ar ba'ale 
hayyiml in this regard is veiy great; there is no difference between the suffering of human beings and the suffering 
of the other animals in this respect. For a mother's love and compassion for her child is not derived from the 
intellect, but from the action of the imaginative faculty, which is found in most animals as it is found in 
humanity.... This is also the reason for the commandment of sending [the mother] away from the nest..." As for 
the Talmudic passage cited in Section 13 (see Note 49), Maimonides says that this is not a valid objection to the 
views stated here. (Moreh Nevuchim 111:48.) 

56 Exodus 22:29; Leviticus 22:27. 

57 Deuteronomy 22:6. Rav Kook refers to the practices mentioned in these three biblical verses in a kind of 
rabbinic shorthand, as " oto ve'et beno, mihoser zeman , veshiluah haken " (lit. "it and its young, insufficient time, 
and the sending away [from] the nest"). 

58 See note 54. 

59 As it is for wild animals; see Note 53. 

60 Song of Songs 5:2. (ed.) 


it would cause an effect quite the opposite of what was intended, 61 and we would get used to 
acting contrary to our inner moral sensibility [of which the feeling of shame is a manifestation]; 
this effect will counteract the positive purpose which the feeling of shame should serve in 
overcoming the formidable obstacle we will face in the end of days. 62 

15. The limits of [spiritual] ascent 

We do not know, nor can we know, the limits of [spiritual] ascent, or their particulars in 
terms of when they will occur [lit. "their times"] and the methods of reaching them. We know no 
reliable or conclusive details of any consequence in regard to these matters. They are, then, 
among God's hidden mysteries; but we can know, in principle, and we are able to understand, that 
there are higher and higher levels, and that the highest elevation - if we may speak in such terms - 
is not realized to its fullest value all at once. Our sages, of blessed memory, already hinted at this 
in their reference to the harp made of seven strings, then of eight, then often in the time to 
come. 63 And the sages of the Kabbala depicted a higher level being attained, and holiness 
enhanced, every thousand years; and every seven thousand years, an even more perceptible stride 
is taken: [the creation of] the world, cycles, shmittah , and so on up to the years of jubilee. 64 

61 A similar statement is made at the beginning of Section 9. 

62 It is difficult to translate this last sentence literally. Rav Kook is saying that the covering of the blood, where 
it is required, reminds us of the shame involved in the act of hunting down wild, free animals for food [see Sections 
16 and 17]; consequently, this is not a common activity (or, conversely, the prohibition applies in this case because 
it is not a common activity). If the covering of the blood were required also for the slaughter of domesticated, 
animals, which is a routine matter, then we would become inured to the reproach that is inherent in the mitzvah , 
and, in effect, our capacity to respond to the feeling of shame, when it really mattered, would be diminished. 

63 Numbers Rabbah, Beha'alotecha XV: 1 1 [on Numbers 8:6]; Tanhuma [Beha'alotecha; on the same versej; 
Yalkut Shimoni, Psalm 6; Pesikhta Rabati 21. "Rabbi Yehudah said. There were seven cords in die harp [upon 
which the Levites played];... and in the days of the Messiah [there will be] eight,... and [there will be] ten in the 
future to come." (ed.) 

64 The editor refers here to Sefer hatemunah . The main importance of this "highly cryptic" coriy Kabbalistio 
work (c. 1250) lies in its articulation of the theory of shrnittot or "cosmic cycles." According to Gershom Scholem, 
this theory "was based on a fixed periodicity in creation." There is a cosmic cycle fshmit'ah ) parallel to each of the 
days of creation; each such cycle is bound to one of the Sefirot and lasts six thousand years. "In the seventh 
millenium,... the Sabbath-day of the cycle, the sefirotic forces cease to function and the world returns fo chaos. 
Subsequently, the world is renewed through the power of the following Sefjrah, and is active for a new cycle. At 
the end of all the shemittot there is, the 'great jubilee,...' The basic unit of world history is :ho:.elor:: the 50,000 year 
jubilee,... According to [this theory], the laws in the Torah concerning the sabbatical ana the jubiic-e years refer to 
this mystery of recurrent creation." (Scholem, "Kabbalah," Encyclop edia Judsica (krvsakiri: Kofi;-/, 1972), Vol. 10, 


16. Changes in our relations with wild animals, fowl, and domesticated animals. 

It is our purpose to understand that if humanity rises first to this level, so as to understand 
and recognize, from the standpoint of the level of perfect piety, and on the strength of the 
impression given by the fulfilled "prompting of the intellect," that [in the case of] the animal which 
is not dependent upon human beings for sustenance, but which is attacked and hunted - as 
"[anyone who] hunts an animal or bird that may be eaten" 65 - it is an injustice to take this animal's 
life for our needs. It is fitting for humanity to be ashamed of this moral baseness, whereby it has 
descended so low that this cruel state characterizes its practical conduct, no less than it is 
ashamed of every other natural baseness. This state will prevent humanity from attaining the moral 
sensitivity which is much more elevated, through which it will provide for the animal which is 
dependent upon it, the domesticated animal, even, according to this general standard, when the 
animal reaches old age and can no longer perform its work. For the moral recognition will flow 
from the knowledge of God's ways, filled with justice and truth, until the life of the animal, which 
has performed its work for so many years and has become accustomed to the domesticated way 
of life, will be spared for its own sake. This will almost be perceived in the heightened "prompting 
of the intellect," which spreads out from the trunk of the divine "prompting of the Torah." 

Therefore the impact of slaughtering an animal or bird which is for the most part hunted 
cannot be the same as that of slaughtering a domestic animal, which is for the most part consigned 
to its stall and is sustained by the labor of its master, and which then becomes a burden in its old 
age when it is no longer fit for eating. And therefore the covering of the blood cannot be the 
practice with regard to domestic animals, [in regard to the blood of whom scripture says] " 
shall pour it upon the ground like water [and not cover it]." 66 

pp. 581-582.) 

65 Leviticus 17:13. (ed.) The verse continues: "...shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth." (See Section 
14, Note 53.) 

66 Deuteronomy 12:24. (ed.) 


17. The prohibition of fat. 67 

Indeed, the prohibition of the fat will come to teach, when the time comes for "the 
prompting of the intellect" to be revealed, that even with regard to this animal, which is dependent 
upon its master, the prompting will come at an early time. In any case, there is no reason to take 
its life unnecessarily, except that human beings crave rich delicacies, "the fat of ox, sheep and 
goat.*' 68 And. if the moral decline causes the weakening of humanity's physical capacities to the 
point where it also becomes impossible for it to develop by virtue of its physical strength, which is 
properly related to a higher development consisting of the elevation of the soul, 69 it is due to the 
eating of the flesh of animals. Therefore in preventing the eating of fat by a strict prohibition, 
without which humanity would still be able to endure by the strengthening of its powers, and 
whose only advantage lies in [the gratification of] a sensual desire, namely, the eating of the fat 
which is so loved by the gluttonous palate - this prohibition underscores distinctly that the basis of 
the permission [to eat meat] is due to necessity and is problematical, 70 to the extent that along 
with the prohibition of the fat, the very blood which is poured out upon the ground like water 71 
will cry out to the human species, when the time of its elevation arrives, so that it will be raised up 
from these disgraces. 

Thus too for animals which are hunted, both beast and fowl, in which case the exhortation 
[ha'arah ] which accompanies their slaughter, through the covering of the blood, is more keen, 
taking the form of the recognition of humanity's shame and the reproach of its moral baseness. 
Again, regarding these animals there is no need for the exhortation inherent in the prohibition of 
the fat, since it addresses a need, for it would serve to diminish the impact of covering the blood, 

67 Leviticus 3:17: "It is a law for all time throughout the ages, in all your settlements: you must not eat any fat 
or any blood." 

After Leviticus 7:23. 

. In The Lights of Holiness Rav Kook writes: "When spiritual decline sets in because of a deterioration in one's 
bodily state, it is necessary to deal with it on the basis of its cause: to mend one's bodily state, according to a 
definite regimen and with firm understanding. Through the mending of the bodily condition'the spiritual damage 
will be repaired." (In Bokser, p. 225.) 

70 . See Section 5. 

71 . See Section 16, note 66. 

which expresses the feeling of deep shame over the general spilling of blood, whether it is done 
for enjoyment or to alleviate starvation. 72 In these cases one does not apply the specific 
exhortation regarding the fat, and therefore the fat of these animals is permitted. 

Furthermore, these matters point to another fundamental principle in the manner in which 
they act upon the emotions. According to the natural condition of a people which inhabits its own 
land, whenever they hunt down an animal or bird in order to eat it, they spill out the blood there, 
far from their own dwelling, in the place where these free creatures live. In this way the sight of 
the blood will arouse the human heart a little, and awaken the human being to the fact that these 
deeds are not seemly. But surely the hunter will wander far from the place where the blood was 
spilt, and by what means then shall the impression remain in order to bear its fruit as a morally 
inscribed law which becomes more profound in each succeeding generation, like water which 
erodes the flinty rock drop by drop? Only through the active performance of the divine mitzvah - 
which contains within itself a fundamental principle for strengthening the desired exhortation - 
[namely,] through [the act of] "covering," naturally effected; and the Torah's point of view is that 
[the "covering" applies] to every instance of moral disgrace and shame that occurs in human 


The manner of conduct with regard to domesticated animals, however, is the opposite [of 
that stated above]. For the most part, it is slaughtered in the vicinity of a person's habitation, in a 
place which is frequented [lit. "where his feet are found"]; therefore the opposite should take 
place: one should not cover the blood, so that the eyes see at every turn that blood has been spilt, 
that "the blood cries out against [the perpetrator] from the ground." 73 And this voice, which arises 
through a "still, small voice" 74 indeed, will be heard by the human ear only when the time comes 
for it to be heard, the time when the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf shall be opened, that 
excellent time which is promised, when "... I will remove the heart of stone from their bodies and 
give them a heart of flesh." 75 

72 . Literally "corn of famine." See Genesis 42:19. 

73 . After Genesis 4: 10. 

74 . After I Kings 19:12. 
75 .Ezekiel 11:19. (ed.) 


18. The preparation for the covering [of the blood] 

The exhortation inherent in the covering of the blood of animal and bird, because it is seen 
to be prior and more pronounced, is also distinguished in a such a way as to testify to the essence 
of this particular deed, "by placing dust beneath" the blood, according to the tradition of the 
sages. 76 In other words, in regard to a matter which recalls such shame, preparation even prior to 
the action is called for, forewarning the practitioner to be penitent and remorseful, and to recog- 
nize that it is not fitting to harm a living being. "For God is good to all, and God's mercy extends 
to all creation." 77 

19. The law of the use of milk and wool. 

[In regard to] the use by human beings of things which naturally belong to animals, even 
when one is not taking the animal's life [lit. "removing its life from the world"], such as [the use 
of] the milk from an animal which is ordinarily milked, or the wool from an animal which is 
sheared: Now, seeds of light are sown in the divine Torah, seeds which will come to fruition as a 
result of [or "at the time of] the more refined "intellectual prompting." For in these actions [the 
taking of milk and wool], too, there is a necessity for manifestations of guidance and worthy 
moral sentiments, signifying that life is so exalted and holy, so fine 78 and perfect, that the 
excessive arrogance, devoid of any feelings of justice or morality, exceeding all bounds, with 
which the human being in the weakness of self-love approaches the hapless cow and the mute 
sheep, taking from the one its milk and the other its wool - [that this arrogance] is incompatible 
with the "intellectual prompting" which results from the fulfillment of the "religious [Toraitic] 
prompting," and which will appear in the world as a result of the strength which comes from the 
recognition of God's ways and the revering of God's name, arising through the power of pure and 
holy love. 

16 . Hullin 83b. (ed.) This phrase is used as part of an argument which establishes that covering the blood applies 
only to wild animals and birds. The practice of placing dust beneath (as well as over) the blood is also noted in 
Betza 7b and in the Shulhan Aruh, Yoreh Deah, Hilkhot Shekhita 28:5. 

77 . Psalm 145:9. 

7E - Afikim banegev shows " adinim " instead of " atzumim ." 


Surely it is appropriate to recognize that it is not a moral wrong to take wool from the 
sheep when the wool's owner, the sheep itself, would be relieved by its removal, or in any case, 
when to do so would neither distress it nor harm it. It is indecent, however, to take [the wool] for 
one's own benefit when the true, natural owners, the sheep themselves, are in need of it. So it is 
fitting to see this case, from the standpoint of "the intellectual prompting," as a perversion of 
justice which consists of a physical attack upon a weaker being. And the case is the same with the 
milk of the animal which is milked. It is appropriate, too, to make room [for the idea], which will 
emerge in its properly appointed time, that there is indeed a correlation between the taking of milk 
from an animal and the taking of its life and its flesh, namely, at a time and in a manner which 
causes it to suffer, when its own natural well-being and benefit, to which it is entitled, is denied to 

20. The milk exists for the kid. 

. According to the comprehensive view, 79 which is filled with God's compassion and 
goodness over all creatures, humanity will acknowledge the principle of the existence of the milk 
in the teats of the mother, who does not live so that people, simply by their right of ownership, 
can exploit [the milk] for their own [purposes], but rather so that she can suckle her tender young, 
the kid which is dear to her, with the milk of her teats. The kid, by virtue of its character and its 
nature, is also entitled to the love of its mother's teats. But the cruelty in the human heart, which 
emerges from physical and moral weakness, changes and distorts these principled views. 

Thus the tender kid, according to the evaluation of humanity's lower morality, is entitled 
neither to nestle against its loving mother, nor to enjoy the wonder of life, but only to be slaugh- 
tered and to be food for the stomach of gluttonous humanity, for its debased soul which says, "I 
will eat meat." 80 This being the case, what then is the purpose of the milk if not to cook in it the 
slaughtered kid? For does not the combining of these two essentials, the milk and the tender kid 
which is entitled to be nourished precisely from it, seem so natural? 

79 . See the "Introduction," pp. 26-27. 

80 . Deuteronomy 12:20. See the beginning of Section 14. 


But humanity, let your ears hear something close behind you, the voice of God which 
forcefully calls out to you: "You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk." 81 No, the purpose of the 
kid is certainly not to be food for your sharp teeth, which are sharpened and polished 82 as a result 
of your baseness and your gluttony in eating meat; and the milk is manifestly not intended to be a 
condiment for you with which you satisfy, your base craving. 

21. The prohibition of meat [cooked in] milk during the transitional period. 

When you recognize that [the cooking of] meat in milk is so foreign to the improvement 
of your eating habits, and so abominable that it is prohibited to [use them in combination] for 
enjoyment, for cooking, or for eating, 83 then you will know, when the time comes, that the life of 
the animal was not created in order to satisfy your lustful appetite, and that the milk was 
principally intended to be nourishment for the one whom nature conceived to fulfill its role, just as 
the milk of your mother's breasts was vouchsafed for you when you were nursing. 

The prohibition of combining the meat with the milk intensifies the moral impact, the 
effect of which will be progressively legislated from the period of transition as well, during which 
the light that is sown for the future has not yet flourished. 84 

And still incomplete is humanity's instruction in being prepared for that prompting of the 
heart which will, in good time, easily enable "the intellectual prompting" to appear. For then not 
only will it be fitting that the eating of meat will be prevented, from the lofty standpoint of pure 
morality, when it arises into consciousness, but also [it will be understood that] there is a measure 
of sin and robbery, morally speaking, even in the extraction of the milk, when it is taken in a 
manner similar to the taking of meat: by causing suffering or loss to the animal by means of 

81 . Exodus 23:19, 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21. (ed.) 
K . See Ezekiel 21:14-16. 

83 . Hullin 1 15b and Mekhilta, Mishpatim 20: '"You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk,' is found three 
times [in the Torah; see Section 20, note 81]: one is a prohibition against eating it, one is a prohibition against 
enjoying [or benefitting from] it, and one is a prohibition against cooking it." (ed.) 

84 Rav Kook believed that the present age is the one which immediately precedes the Messianic Era. (See the 
"Introduction," p. 19.) It is a time of transition from a past characterized by imperfection and fragmentation to a 
future which will see the development of a perfected universal culture. 


preventing the enhancement of its offspring's well-being. It will then be acknowledged, due to the 
opening of the gates of righteousness in the world to the indisputable owners of their natural 
possessions, that [their offspring] are for them an esteemed gift from God. This is the light which 
will shine through precisely because of the prohibition of eating meat with milk, with all its rami- 
fications and in all its strictness, teaching the value of its cherished purpose. 

The divine purpose which is hidden in all this, [and which is made manifest] only through 
practical behavior performed only for the sake of serving God and observing God's laws, in order 
to enlarge upon the thoughts of God's pure mind, serves to refine [all] creatures from one 
generation to the next. 85 

22. The reason for the prohibition of shatnez 86 

Wool is customarily used for human clothing, in keeping with the situation of Israel in its 
own land, and it is in large measure the natural 87 possession of the animal. Corresponding to it, in 
the category of plants, is linen. This gives rise to the statement of "the Tanna of the school of 
Rabbi Ishmael, [who said,] when the Torah mentions garments, without further specification,... 
they are assumed to be of wool and linen." 88 

The use of linen will enable humanity, according to the most perfect "intellectual promp- 
ting," and at the time of the more sublime manifestation of the knowledge of righteousness, 
to extend the desire for it and the use of it, when the sound reasoning behind it and its aesthetic 
sense are learned. Then the heart will have no cause to persist in saying that some sinful offense is 
being committed. Wool, however, is an entirely different case, in that it is taken from the animal; 
so there is a long-standing requirement [lit. "already requires"] for some sort of limitation with 
regard to its use in the name of "the intellectual prompting," which flows from the divine justice 
[inherent in] "the prompting of the Torah," [to the effect that] one should not exploit [lit. "take 
from"] a living being in a way that causes it suffering and disfigurement. Therefore it is 

85 . See Section 27, Note 108. 

86 . The mingling of wool and linen. See Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22: 1 1. 

87 . This word, tiv'i, found in Afikim banegev , is omitted in Hazon . 

88 . Shabbat 26b; Yevamot4a. (ed.) 


unthinkable that wool and linen be regarded in the same category in assessing value and relation- 
ship. And in order to prepare the human inclinations to emerge fully in their proper time, they 
[these inclinations] will utilize the guidance provided by the laws of the prohibition of milk and 
meat and of the prohibition of " shatnez : wool and linen together." 89 

23. The permission of shatnez 90 in tzitzit 91 and in priestly garments. 

It is particularly salient that in the matter of divine service, the purpose of which is so 
exalted as to raise the offering of life in all its aspects to its preeminent value -teaching that for 
human beings, in relationship to their possessions, this is the fitting and upright rule which is to 
impress upon them the honoring of the God of wondrous majesty, and by which rule they stand 
ready, "with all their being," 92 to be commanded - [in this instance] there is no room for limiting 
an explicit awareness of the possessions of animals [vis-a-vis those of human beings]. 

Therefore there is no value in instituting the prohibition of shatnez - combining wool and 
linen - regarding either tzitzit or priestly garments. These two instances have the effect of 
reversing the rigorously observed mitzvah of shatnez ; [they put in a new light] the notions of 
reverence for all life and of what is a fittingly heartfelt offering when the natural possessions of 
their [animal] owners are taken, without limit or restraint, in order to facilitate the general uplif- 
ting of humanity. 

For the hidden mystery of the service of God is such that it is proper for [the animals] too 
to happily make their offering, so as to partake of the worthy objective 93 [of serving God. This 
objective] emerges from humanity's revelation, which joins with the totality of existence, that 
[human beings] also are themselves animals, in a universal sense. 

89 . Deuteronomy 22:11. 

90 . See Section 22. 

91 . Fringes of the prayer shawl worn in morning worship and of the four-cornered inner garment worn by 
Orthodox Jewish men. 

97 . A reference to Deuteronomy 6:5, part of a prayer recited in Jewish worship three times daily. 
93 . This follows Afikim banegev which shows " takhlit hatov " instead of " takhlita hatov ." 


24. The body of laws faces the future 

The fundamental principle of this mitzvah is deeply imbedded in the most distant future, 
which will see enrichment in the spirit of all life to a level more wondrously exalted than we can 

presently imagine. 

The whole body of laws anticipates [lit. "faces"] the future, which is their primary 
objective. In the present, these laws are made holy in terms of this objective in the form of sowing 
seeds and preparing for the future. Thus those whose domain is only the present, [i.e.] "the evil 
inclination and the foreign nations, object to these laws, and appraise [Israel] by them." 94 

The waves of a raging sea of vast waters, waves of false imaginings from depictions of the 
present, which is limited to itself alone, with no trace of a connection with the source of the 
future; waves of a vast, roaring, human sea, a realm of tyrannical nations, who sanctify the present 
as though it were something which constitutes the wholeness of life; these waves rise to sink the 
fragile ship floating on the face of the waters, like delicate angels in a swift boat made of reeds; 
this is the ship of the community of Israel, straining to reach its home port [lit. "rowing to 
sanctuary (huppah)"], [seeking] to emerge out of the struggle with the sea of the present and its 
waves. Indeed this is the ship which subdues the sea "with clubs upon which are written ehyeh 
as her ehyeh [I am who I am]," 95 and which serves as a connection to the future through the 
observance of laws that are planted there. [This is in keeping with the] response of tradition: "I 
have decreed it, and I have made it a statute, and you have no right to criticize it." 96 For by whom 
is the future anticipated in all its particulars? Only by the Lord of all worlds, who from the 
beginning declares the end. 

94 . Torat Cohanim [Sifra], Ahare, 13:9; Rashi on Leviticus 18:4 and Numbers 19:2; Tanhuma, Bamidbar, 
Hukkat 3; Bamidbar Rabbah 19; Yoma 67b. (ed). In each of these the law of shatnez is mentioned as one of a 
number of examples of laws to which the evil inclination and the gentile nations object. In conjunction with the 
passage cited at the end of the next paragraph (see Note 96), the objection seems to be based on the fact that there 
is no apparent rational explanation for these laws; they are decrees of God which must be taken on faith. 

95 . Baba Batra 73a (ed.: 73b), referring to Exodus 3:14. This tangential anecdote, one of many in this section, 
occurs in a discussion of the selling of a ship: "Rabbah stated: Sailors have told me that a wave which sinks a ship 
comes with a white fringe of fire at its crest; it subsides when it is stricken with clubs upon which are written 'I am 
who I am, Yah, the Lord of Hosts, Amen, Amen, Sela.'" 

96 ': Even if it appears to be arbitrary or without rational explanation (see Note 94). The editor lists the same 
references as in Note 94. 


Only when the blessed time comes will it be known and sensed by sight how great is the 
measure of benefit that belongs to the children of this marvelous nation. None among all the 
peoples under the heavens can compare to them, who erect before all the inhabitants of the earth 
well-guarded gates which are set up over all existence and which open to the most holy and 
exalted temple of human perfection. 

25. "The words of the scribes are pleasing" 

The judges and counselors who will return to us as before, "from Zion, perfect in 
beauty," 97 from "the place which God will choose," 98 in their explanation of the Torah and its 
motives, will find our people already fit and prepared to take these sacred buds [of teaching] and 
bring them to fruition. Then, in terms of the oral law, which, in its totality, consists in obeying [lit. 
"hearkening to"] the words of the scribes, the centralized Great Court of Law which will be 
established for Israel "is none other than' the judge that is in your days.'" 99 With their 
interpretations as well as their decrees, by means of these [latter-day judges] the light will spread 
throughout the world, among the whole people, in the form of commandments and decrees which 
are "the words of the scribes," and which will have a full effect on "the intellectual promptings," 
and will be fulfilled through them. Then will be fully understood the declaration of the 
Congregation of Israel [to God]: "Tor your beloved ones are more precious than wine;' the words 
of the Scribes are more pleasant than the wine of Torah." 100 

97 '. Psalm 50:2. 

98 . Deuteronomy 12:11, and many subsequent verses. 

". Rosh Hashanah 23b and Sifre, Shoftim, 159 (ed.:149). The discussions referred to here are based on 
Deuteronomy 17:9: "You shall come to the levitical priests or to the judge that is in your days." The phrase "in 
your days" is taken to imply that any latter-day court will have the same stature and authority as the greatest of 
Israel's ancient judges. 

10 °. The author combines two references: Avodah Zarah 35a and Song of Songs Rabbah on Song of Songs 1:2. 
("The meaning of these spoken words is that this is the eternal Torah which can never be changed or replaced, and 
the Torah permits [the eating ofj meat. The sages, however, and a Great Court which [administers] justice from on 
high, may, when the great future arrives, in the complete fulfillment of their good attributes, add [to the Torah] and 
legislate, as Oral Law,' from the words of the scribes,'and institute restrictions to prevent large-scale slaughter for 
secular purposes [for food]. In this way the 'words of the scribes' will be more precious than the words of the 
Torah.") (ed.) 


And that people which is elevated through a natural psychic [or spiritual (nafshi)] fitness, 
through the qualities of "mercy, modesty, and benevolence, which are the three distinguishing 
characteristics of this nation" 101 - when those qualities emerge, realized in their fullest sense, 
according to the guidance found in the Torah, and when their righteousness and saving power 
shine forth like a torch aflame, then that nation must truly be "a light unto the nations." 

26. The compassion reflected in the prohibition of nevetah (carcasses) and terefah (flesh 
from injured or torn animals) 

Of particular significance is the rightful [or "statutory" (mishpatit)] compassion, intended 
to be put into effect out of pure emotions and to spread from humanity to all living beings, which 
lies hidden in the prohibition of eating nevelah and terefah 102 

The unfortunate terefah is more fully deserving of feelings of compassion, just as a person 
will naturally feel more compassionate toward one who is ill or a victim of suffering than toward 
one who is healthy. The admonition inherent in the prohibition of terefah , is accepted as bringing 
out the application [lit. "relation"] of the mitzvah of bikur holim (visiting the sick) to animals, in 
the fulfillment of "the intellectual prompting." [This mitzvah ] brings a feeling of succor in regard 
to the unfortunate among [the animals], just as [the mitzvah of] covering the blood is related to 
the imprinting of a natural prohibition against murdering them. 103 An awareness of the 
consequences of murder and bloodshed is thereby effected, just as the prohibitions of [mixing] 
meat and milk and of shatnez gives rise to the awareness of the right of [animals] to their [natural] 
possessions and [their right] not to be robbed of what belongs to them. 104 

The commonality found in the feelings of compassion, which will produce its effect when 
the time comes, combines with a spiritual and physical hygiene that is inherent in it [to deter 
human beings] from being associated with predatory animals [which do eat terefah ], 105 since it 

im . Yevamot 79b; Numbers Rabbah, Naso 8; Deuteronomy Rabbah, Ekev 3; Midrash Samuel, end of Section 28. 

102 . Exodus 22:30; Leviticus 17:15; Deuteronomy 14:21. 

103 . See Section 14. 

104 . See Sections 19 to 22. 
1M . See Section 13. 

carries with it the obligation to act toward [the unfortunate ones] for their benefit, to treat them 
well and with intelligence. So how can people eat the terefah found in the field, appearing to 
divide the spoils and thereby obscuring their inclinations [towards goodness and compassion]? 

Indeed, the ramifications of what constitutes terefah , as expounded in the words of the 
scribes, to the effect that there is no difference between an animal lying torn in the field and a 
person suffering from a fatal disease, point directly to the feeling of compassion, which ought to 
arise at the outset with regard to the unfortunate and the outcast. All the more so will the nevelah, 
which died of itself [not due to human intention], prepare the heart to direct itself to the feeling 
that it should have no desire to exploit the misfortune of the animals in the event of their deaths. 
This signals sentiments of comradeship and commiseration, entering into the realm of the inner 
feelings of their world [i.e. empathy with their situation]. 

In this way will "the intellectual prompting" be strengthened through the recognition of an 
innate [lit. "imprinted"] law [which requires us] to distance ourselves from committing any 
iniquity upon these our fellow creatures [lit. "friends"], since we come from the hand of one 
common Creator, the Lord of all creation. 

27. Towards the improvement of the animals' lot 

Thus will humanity expand the limits of righteous behavior. Once the gates of 
righteousness are opened, the light will continue to spread, "ever brightening until the height of 
noon," 106 until within the parameters of human righteousness the demand will arise, valid and 
enduring, to take counsel in seeking ways to improve the lot of these animals, who exist at a 
lowly and humble level of creation in terms of their material and moral status. Then the 
"dominion" of which the Torah speaks 107 will be established according to its purpose and its value, 
as it was intended to be understood. 

And certainly, when this noble vision is fulfilled; when this recognition is put into effect in 
its entirety by means of these impressions left by the Torah, its laws and mitzvot . 

106 . Proverbs 4:18. (ed.) 

107 . Sec Genesis 1:26,28. 


"which serve to refine [all] creatures;" 108 when [these laws and mitzvot ] are repeatedly put into 
practice in the life of each successive generation of a humanity filled with the knowledge of God, 
deriving from conceptions of what the essence of the higher morality is, which continually flows 
forth from the light that is hidden within these prohibitions and laws; [when this comes to pass] 
then humanity will no longer be able to in any way brandish its sword over [animal] life, but they 
will dwell in safety together, and savor the splendor of life. 

28. Just laws for the future to come 

When the divine meaning [underlying the mitzvot ], which is indeed precious and deep- 
seated in this world [the present] but "of little account," 109 trivial and superficial, in the world to 
come, is actualized, [it will be] because of the ritual preparation which made all living souls fit for 
those holy guideposts [the mitzvot ]. [For those same guideposts], built on the foundation of these 
lofty aspirations, [will enable them] to sense well how to elevate life as a whole and all its condi- 
tions to a level of great value, so that such moral [teachings] as these [that have been discussed] 
will be appropriate to them. Then the objective which is derived from this scripture will be 
realized: "For you are a holy people unto the Lord your God." 110 

And when all the peoples hear of these laws and of the practice [of these laws], they will 
surely say, m "That great nation is a wise and discerning people.' ... for it has laws and rules as just 
as all this teaching that I set before you this day." 112 "This day" [is a time] when humanity is still 
so far from having sublime aspirations such as these, when the road to the actualization of these 

108 . Genesis Rabbah 14:1; Leviticus Rabbah 13:3; Tanhuma, Vayikra, Shemini: "The mizvot were given only for 
the purpose of refining [all] creatures." (ed.) 

109 . Pesahim 50a; Numbers Rabbah 19:6; on Zachariah 14:6: "On that day there shall not be light, but heavy, 
thick clouds." The editor summarizes the Midrashic passages thus: "Things which are hidden from you in this 
world will be revealed to you in the future world to come." The Talmudic passage reads: "This means, the light 
which is precious pyakarl in this world, is of little account fkapuvl in the world to come." 

"°. Deuteronomy 14:2. This is followed by the prohibitions of forbidden foods, (ed.) 

11 '. This phrase which introduces the biblical passage is based on the verses (Deuteronomy 4:5-6) which precede 
the quote. 

m . Deuteronomy 4:6-8. (ed.) 


aspirations is so distant. But see, "I set before you" these "laws and rules... this day," for the sake 
of the quality [lit. "fitness"] of the distant future. 

"Laws and rules as just as" these are suitable only for a great nation, "a wise and 
discerning people," which is able to devote itself entirely to high and exalted ideals, the high value 
of which corresponds to the remoteness of the means to [their realization]. A great people, filled 
with strength and with a wonderful knowledge of its own essence - only such a people is properly 
suited to work toward [lit. "not to neglect"] wonderful ideals such as these, which are cached in 
these "just laws and rules," to the point that they will perfect and actualize them. 

29. The peak of perfection for humanity 

But what form does life take, if it is suited to such moral characteristics as these, if such 
glorious ideals as these are not to be considered as a leap outside the system, or as entering the 
realm [described by these words of scripture]: "Do not be overly righteous, nor act too wise"? 113 

It is obvious that these moral standards are not appropriate for humanity until it is 
perfected in all its aspects to the peak of its perfection, when the poor will have ceased from the 
land: "There shall be no needy among you..;" 114 when abject hunger will no longer be found: 
"They shall not hunger or thirst, hot wind and sun shall not strike them." 115 No deficiency of 
knowledge will exist, because all of them will be "taught of the Lord," 116 filled with the spirit of 
wisdom which flows unto all flesh. The learning of wisdom, of artistry, and of all skills will be 
made much more simple when human abilities are developed to their full extent, and the natural 
life, wholesome and pleasant, will return to its pure, natural splendor, in "the time to come when 
all who practice a craft shall stand upon the firm ground." 117 

113 . Ecclesiastes7:16. (ed.) 

" 4 . Deuteronomy 15:4. (ed.) 

» 5 . Isaiah 49:10. (ed.) 

" 6 . Isaiah 54:13. 

117 . Yevamot 63a (ed.), referring to Ezekiel 27:29. The Talmudic passage is interpreted to mean that all who 
practice a craft will take up agriculture. 


30. Universal peace 

And how can these human abilities fail to become well developed, and the rest of the 
human spirit fail to be uplifted, when, in place of war among peoples and national rivalries, which 
serve only to make the yoke of life borne by all humanity even more burdensome, universal peace 
will rule: "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning 
hooks." 118 

In the absence of strife and contention, all labor and practical abilities will be directed 
toward uplifting oneself ever higher, toward desiring in the most determined way to increase the 
[number of] deeds performed out of compassion, righteousness, and knowledge of God. The 
cycle of life will turn not by force of jealousy between people, but by force of the power of the 
love of God and God's ways: "They shall march behind the Lord, who shall roar like a lion." 119 

31. A new world 

Then humanity will search with inner thirst for a plot of space wherein it can do acts of 
justice, and water it out of the full spirit of lovingkindness, but it will not find any, for all humanity 
will by then be so blessed as to be living a life of pleasure, contentment, and good fortune; 
materially, morally, and intellectually. 

Then with its resources of wisdom, information, and experience, the human species will 
turn to its lowly brothers and sisters of the animal world, mute and miserable, and will find the 
means and the resourcefulness to greatly improve their lot, by training them and teaching them 
step by step, according to their worth. There is no doubt that humanity can achieve a great deal 
[lit. "enlarge his works"] in this way, when the proper time comes for it to turn to this task. And it 
is beyond any doubt that humanity will "magnify and make glorious the teaching" 120 of the 
enlightenment of the animals and their material advancement and even more so their moral and 

" 8 . Isaiah 2:4. (ed.) The verse continues: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; they shall never again 
know war." 

" 9 . Hosea 11:10. (ed.) 

120 . After Isaiah 42:21. 


spiritual advancement, to a level so high that it will be altogether impossible for us to imagine it in 
terms of the present situation, which is full of baseness and muddy thinking, and all [the animals] 
will receive a new and higher form; [it will be] a new world: "If the righteous so desired, they 
could [by virtue of their perfect righteousness] create a world." 121 

32. The elevation of animal life in the future to come 

And according to the worthiness of their heightened rank in the course of this 
development, resulting from the general spiritual elevation which influences the emotions and the 
senses with the effect of sharpening and clarifying them, here the true form will emerge, "And the 
cattle and the asses that till the soil shall partake of salted fodder that has been winnowed with 
shovel and fan." 122 For their sense of taste will develop in proportion to the uplifting of their souls, 
in a delicate manner that corresponds to the measure of [development of] the other aspects of 
their souls. 

And in "a still, small voice" 123 does the wisdom of Israel speak through the Kabbalah : "The 
level which animal life will attain in the future will be like the present standpoint of the speaker 
[i.e. humanity] because of the ascent of the worlds." 124 

121. Sanhedrin 65b. (ed.) The context is a discussion of various mystical and magical occurrences including 
conjuring, soothsaying, and the creation of weird beings. ' 

122. Isaiah 30:24. (ed.) 
123. 1 Kings 19:12. 

124. Sha'ar hamitzvot of R. Hayyim Vital, pp.98-99. This particular statement was not found, but the editor 
includes this passage from page 99: "Adam selected all the souls of the animals, and therefore was not permitted to 
eat them. And know that the animals which were selected at the time of the six days of creation were on a higher 
level Aan that of human beings at the present time, after having sinned... Thus we should not be surprised by the 
ass of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair], who perceived what the sages did not perceive. [Hullin 7a; the ass refused to eat 
until it W3.S titncu.J 

The editor also brings in this passage from Vital's Etz Hayyim, Gate 49:3: "The first human being, who selected 
all the animals, was permitted to eat only plant food. After sinning - and the animals, too, sinned - the clean 
animals become purified by means of eating them, and in the future they will be purified [to the level of] the 
highest mountains. J 

The editor refers to these other Kabbalistic works which include material on this same theme: SeferMishnat 
gasidim of Immanuel Hai Ricchi, a topical exposition of Lurianic Kabbalah; Sefer Siah Yitzhak of Isaac ben 

S r!^ ^^ 0mPriSing u COmnientarieS ° n * e W£ekly T ° rah Potions; and Siddur ^a~r Hashamavi™ of 
Isaiah Halevi Horowitz, a prayerbook with mystical commentary. " 




And this is the glory of the picture portrayed for us by the prophets regarding the 
enlightened condition of [even] the predatory animals: 

The cow and the bear shall graze, 

Their young shall lie down together; 

And the lion, like the ox, shall eat straw. 

A babe shall play over a viper's hole, 

And an infant pass its hand over an adder's den. 

In all of My sacred mount 

None shall hurt or destroy 

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God 

As the waters cover the sea. 126 


The editor also makes reference to Rav Kook's Orot Hakodesh (The Lights of Repentance) [Unit 1 ] "The 
Wisdom of Holiness," Part 2, "The Universal Vitality," Section 24, "The Source of Abilities fkishronotl ." Here is 
that passage, which in the original consists of one sentence: 

"All of those wonderful abilities which are found in animals and by which, at times, we are amazed - a human 
being cannot even begin to approach the imitation of [those abilities] except after a long and arduous training [lit 
"great and long study"], and even then is able only to approximate the desired level of [the animals'] abilities 
[These abilities] come to them because, [regarding] all of the levels of the animals according to their species the 
lights of life which exist within them are fragments of a great, higher soul, full of [the ultimate] wisdom and 
ability, [a soul] which has been divided into many parts. And each part illumines, according to its capacity, each 
luminous aspect of the great soul, the possessor of the ultimate wisdom and ability. If [a certain part] is of very 
small measure, like a drop from the ocean, even so the essential impression of the [central] point, since it comes 
out of the entirety of the foundation of a mighty and exalted wisdom and ability, is not obscured [lit. "blotted out"] 
and it brings its ability to realization, by virtue of the profundity and greatness of its wisdom, and by virtue of the ' 
same quality which was acquired along with it in its being bound and connected by the bond of perfect life in the 
perfect source. This was the master plan of perfect wisdom, set in order by the precise reckoning of the hieher 
[divine] wisdom." 

125. In Afikim banegev this paragraph comes at the beginning of this section. 

126. Isaiah 11:7-9. (ed.) 



In "A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace," Rav Kook's concern for animals is combined with 
his interpretation of the moral implications of a diet which includes meat. His vision is of a moral state 
in which the craving for flesh will no longer be the primary motivation of human attitudes and actions 
with regard to animals. An improvement in the treatment of animals, and a recognition of their rights, 
is a part of the process of the perfection of the world. Through the observance of the mitzvot which 
manifest "the prompting of the Torah," Rav Kook contends that humanity will eventually become 
open to "the prompting of the intellect" by means of which it will' come to understand the reasons and 
motivations behind those mitzvot . 

Specifically, the herbivorous nature of the permitted animals is intended, to impress upon 
humanity the value of non-violent and non-predatory behavior toward all living beings (Section 13); 
covering the blood, shehita , and the prohibition of eating the blood are reminders of the gravity of 
the act of killing animals for human needs, and the shame involved in this practice which, in moral 
terms, is not a fitting one for humanity (Sections 14, 16, and 18); the prohibition of fat teaches that 
one may kill for food only out of strict necessity, and even then the shame and injustice of the act are 
not diminished (Section 17); the laws governing the use of milk and wool, which should only be 
obtained in ways which do not cause pain or trauma, emphasize the right of animals to their own 
natural possessions and encourage respect for their sentient natures (Sections 1 9-22); the prohibition 
of terefah and nevelah instills feelings of compassion and empathy for fellow creatures (Section 26). 
Furthermore, while the permission to eat meat is meant to establish, through the strict separation of 
human beings and animals, the distinctive moral stature of humanity, once that stature is attained "the 
prompting of the intellect" will enable the human species to transcend that separation and embrace 
with justice its companions in creation (Section 12). 

Rav Kook thus goes beyond the traditional application of the principle of tza'ar ba'ale havyim . 
He claims, in effect, that animals have a right not only to their own lives, but also to their own basic 
natural possessions: the sheep its wool, the kid its mother's milk, the parent animal its offspring. This 
right is prior to the human right to the use of these products and it is ideally not subject to the terms 
of human dominion over animals. In addition, animals are clearly seen as having inherent value as part 


of God's creation, as being entitled to respect and to consideration of their needs, and as deserving 
of justice. The animal offspring, like human children, are precious gifts from God (see Section 21). 
While Rav Kook's views are based on accepted biblical and rabbinic concepts, it cannot be 
said that these positions comprise a normative Jewish attitude toward animals and diet. In fact, to 
raise the possibility of vegetarianism as a Jewish ideal is to confront a fundamental paradox inherent 
in the tradition. On the one hand, biblical and rabbinic teachings allow that the ideal human state, both 
at the beginning of creation, before humanity's moral downfall, and in the culmination of the 
Messianic Age, is characterized by an absence of the use of violent means to obtain human needs, and 
therefore by a vegetarian diet. Furthermore, the obligation to alleviate the gratuitous suffering of all 
living beings is considered to have the force of biblical law. On the other hand, recognizing the 
imperfect and, to some extent, the hedonistic nature of human beings, Judaism permits the slaughter 
of animals for food, albeit with many restrictions. While shehita is widely interpreted as a humane 
method of slaughter, there seems to be no explicit connection in Jewish law between the idea of 
killing for food and the principle of t/a'ar ha'ale hawim. On the contrary, the causing of some 
suffering is allowed if its aim is human benefit. In fact, there is an expression of a rabbinic bias for the 
eating of meat in the Talmudic statement, "there is no joy without meat," 1 from which some derive 
that eating meat on the Sabbath and festivals is actually an obligation. 2 

Rav Kook's method for countering this bias is in his explication of what he views as the deeper 
meaning of the mitzvot the underlying reasons which have, for him, a didactic, edifying purpose. 
Even though this approach is not original to Rav Kook - Maimonides' use of it is perhaps the best 
known example 3 - the idea of looking for meaning in the mitzvot is in itself a controversial one, 
reflected in the Talmudic passage referred to in Section 1 3 , which states, in effect, that it is practically 
heresy to impute motives of compassion (or, presumably, any other motives other than pure will) to 
God's laws. 4 This point of view would maintain that it is presumptuous to make assumptions about 
the reasons behind the mitzvot; that God's motives cannot be known and should not be investigated, 
for to investigate is to question God's absolute authority. 

Rav Kook realizes, however, that this latter approach does not appeal to the vast number of 
Jews who he feels are searching for a way back to Judaism. His concern is "... with strengthening 
Judaism, on the ideological and the practical levels,..." 5 His position, like Maimonides, is that it is 


necessary to address and to reconcile the contending ideological forces of his day. 6 And he does so 
within a framework of pious acceptance of divine authority. 

Rav Kook's vegetarianism is a part of his larger Messianic vision of unity and harmony. This 
presents a problem to the modern Jew (or, for that matter, to anyone) who does not share his 
confident and fervent Messianic faith. Phrases like "the time will come," "humanity will then realize," 
and "the future will bring" are part of his description of and prescription for this new age. For those 
who see themselves as working for the improvement of the world without expectation of supernatural 
redemption, this hope can be seen as an obstacle, an excuse to withhold efforts which are only due 
to be superceded in some miraculous future. 

Rav Kook 's Messianism, however, is not passive, nor does it depend upon supernatural 
intervention. Rather, it places a high value on individual human efforts not only to aspire to, but also 
to strive to put into practice, the ideals which will be fully realized in the Messianic Era (see the 
"Introduction"). Of course, as Rav Kook points out, efforts to redefine and change the attitudes and 
behavior patterns of human beings toward animals are meaningless and futile if they are divorced 
from, or divert attention from, efforts which address the crying needs of human society and, in his 
terms, the perfection of the world in general. 

Along these same lines is the problematical nature of Rav Kook's seemingly naive optimism, 
his faith in the inevitable progress of humanity and of all existence toward perfection. He lived at a 
time when the events surrounding the emancipation of the Jewish people and the reestablishment of 
the Jewish nation in its homeland seemed cataclysmic and exhilarating. These events had effects and 
ramifications which, in the short term, were both positive and negative; but for one who possessed 
Rav Kook's sensibilities, it appeared to be the very dawn of the Messianic Age 7 . He died in 1 93 5, and, 
like so many others, did not foresee the impending holocaust. 

Yet it is fruitless to speculate about what his response would have been. Many have lost their 
faith in God and in humanity in response to less all-encompassing tragedies; others found their resolve 
to work for "Messianic" ideals strengthened in the face of an incomprehensibly overwhelming 
brutality. In any case, neither faith in the advent of the Messianic Age, nor an unbridled optimism with 
regard to the efficaciousness of human efforts at tikkun . are necessary for one to qualify as Rav 


Kook's spiritual ally, according to the pattern that he established during his career as Chief Rabbi in 
Palestine. 8 

While it may be possible to identify with many of Rav Kook's ideals, especially those which 
emphasize universalism, it is another matter for the non-traditional Jew to accept some of the 
particular aspects of Rav Kook's orthodox pronouncements. For example, while he was able and 
willing to make alliances with the secularist, socialist settlers, he may have been motivated purely by 
the desire to establish a state where orthodox authority would rule. After all, he constantly 
admonished the secularists to realize the divine motivation behind their efforts and expected their 
ultimate return to the fold of traditionalism. 9 

In fact, Rav Kook serves as the inspiration for extremists and moderates alike in contemporary 
Israel. The former point to his undiminished hope for the rebuilding of the Temple as well as to his 
other fundamental orthodox beliefs. Yet he made room within his strict orthodoxy for universal and 
humanistic ideals, and was known for his lenient rulings and his tolerance of diverse points of view; 
it is hard to imagine that these attitudes, and his apparently genuine affection for all kinds of people, 
would have been altered by the official establishment of the state. 

In addition to the difficulties with regard to some of Rav Kook's views which arise from 
within the variegated layers of Jewish tradition, certain approaches to the problem of human obliga- 
tions toward the animal world which exist outside the realm of traditional Judaism, and outside of any 
religious framework, present other challenges. One discussion in modern philosophical circles 
concerns the problem of what is called "speciesism. " According to the view of the philosophic propo- 
nents of animal rights, speciesism, for want of a better term, "... is a prejudice or attitude of bias 
toward the interests of members of one's own species and against those of members of other 
species." 10 This view suggests that "the principle of equal consideration of interests" which applies 
to relations among human beings also applies to relations between human beings and other species 
(hence the link between racism, sexism, and speciesism). 

... this principle implies that our concern for [other human beings] ought not to 
depend on what they are like, or what abilities they possess .... [it] also implies that 
the fact that beings are not members of our species does not entitle us to exploit them, 
and similarly the fact that other animals are less intelligent than we are does not mean 
that their interests may be disregarded. 11 


The view expressed here challenges a strict hierarchy like Rav Kook's, in which there is a wide 
gap between the human species and the rest of the animals. Rav Kook is not the first to distinguish 
between the elevated moral stature of which humanity is capable and the "lowly" level of the "beasts. " 
Even so, Rav Kook's hierarchy is not absolute: again, the strict distinction is made in order to inspire 
humanity to ultimately realize the true unity that exists among all species (see Section 12). 

In other respects, too, Rav Kook shares many of the assumptions of the animal rights 
advocates. The philosophers of animal rights have an understanding similar to Rav Kook's as to the 
nature of meat eating. According to them, the suffering and slaughter which are the lot of 
domesticated animals serve nothing more than to cater to the pleasure of gratifying our tastes; "...our 
practice of rearing and killing other animals in order to eat them is a clear instance of the sacrifice of 
the most important interests of other beings in order to satisfy trivial interests of our own." 12 

While maintaining the validity of making distinctions between human beings and animals, Rav 
Kook holds that the dietary laws and shehita are intended to remind us that the animals which we 
prepare for our consumption are not valueless, soulless beings, but have thought processes and 
emotions similar to those of people, and are deserving of consideration and compassion. Similarly, 
one of the philosophers says, "No harm can be justified... if it contravenes the respect principle, 
treating the harmed individuals as mere receptacles of value or as things whose value is reducible to 
their utility relative to the interests of others. " 13 Rav Kook's sensitivity to the injustice suffered by the 
animals who provide us with warmth and sustenance corresponds to the rational analysis of the 
philosophers; moreover, his religious approach is perhaps more accessible to those who turn to 
Jewish tradition in particular, and religion in general, for guidance on moral issues. 

While it is clear that Judaism allows the eating of meat, the restrictions surrounding that 
practice, and the interpretations given to those restrictions, express an ambivalence with regard to 
the taking of animal life for food. The permission is seen as a matter of necessity, a concession to a 
craving which exemplifies the imperfection and weakness of human nature. The restrictions are 
intended to focus attention on the value of the life being taken. 

In general, the thrust of Jewish tradition points, if not to vegetarianism, then at least to the 
notion that human beings, as caretakers of and partners in God's creation, have an obligation to 


prevent and to alleviate the unnecessary suffering of all creatures, human and otherwise, who share 
in the beauty and bounty of that creation. Jewish rituals and customs, particularly the dietary laws and 
the observance of the Sabbath, serve to reinforce the notion of reverence for life and to continually 
reaffirm other universal values, including an appreciation of the holiness and unity of creation. 

Today, many people are calling for a reevaluation of human attitudes and practices with 
regard to animals in light of conditions which seem contrary to the spirit of some aspects of traditional 
Jewish teachings. The farm animals which end up on Sabbath and festival tables endure great suffering 
and trauma; other species are selectively bred or caught in cruel traps to provide fur for clothing 
which is considered fashionable; the number of pets is proliferating so that tens of thousands of 
unwanted animals are put to death each year by the very institutions which are charged with caring 
for them; uncounted numbers of creatures undergo painful, debilitating experiments for questionable 
scientific and industrial purposes; and human beings have pushed to the brink of extinction, and over 
the brink, species whose trophies they prized or which stood in the way of their technological 
vanquishing of nature. 

For those who seek to address these issues Jewish tradition can provide guidance, though it 

cannot be said to uniformly endorse the rights of animals. The message of Rav Kook, however, is that 

animals can be included in a circle of love and concern which encompasses all of suffering creation. 

With Rav Kook as a guide and an example, Jews who choose vegetarianism as an expression of that 

iove and concern can do so knowing that their position is firmly rooted in ground hallowed by 

tradition, and is an expression of the noblest spirit of that tradition. It is the same spirit which speaks 

through the prophetic voice sounded by Rav Kook at the end of "A Vision of Vegetarianism and 


None shall hurt or destroy in all My sacred mount; 
For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God 
As the waters cover the sea. 14 


Notes to Conclusion 


2. While the Talmudic statement is the basis for deriving this obligation, the passage includes the 
opinion that rejoicing with meat applied only while the Temple was standing; since its destruction, 
"there is no rejoicing without wine." For references to responsa which offer exemptions from this 
obligation, on the basis that one cannot rejoice through eating meat if one has an aversion to it, 
see Richard Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetarianism (Smithtown, N.Y.: Exposition Press, 1982), p. 

3. See the "Preface to the Translation," p. 43. 

4. Maimonides discusses these two approaches in Moreh Nevukhim 111:26, 31, 48. See Section 13 
of "Vision," Note 49. 

5. Kook, "Fragments of Light," in Bokser, Abraham Isaac Kook , p. 303. 

6. See "Preface to the Translation," p. 43. 

7. Seethe "Introduction," p. 19. 

8. Seethe "Introduction," p. 4. 

9. See the "Introduction," pp. 20-21 . 

10. Peter Singer, Animal Liberation (New York: Avon Books, 1975), p. 7. 

11. Singer, Practical Ethics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 49. 

12. Singer, "All Animals Are Equal," Philosophical Exchange 1 . No. 5 (Summer 1974); reprint in 
Animal Rights and Human Obligations , ed. Tom Regan and Peter Singer (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: 
Prentice-Hall, 1976), p. 155. 

13. Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1983) 
p. 265. 

14. Isaiah 11:9.